UNLAWFUL LANDLORD ENTRY
Oftentimes, tenants ask me if their landlord can enter their apartment whenever they want. Other times, landlords ask me whether they can change the locks on a tenant who habitually pays rent late.
The fact of the matter is that New Jersey law, specifically N.J.S.A. 2A: 39-1 is very strict and very specific about the ways, manners and methods landlords can use when entering a tenant's apartment.
Pursuant to NJ Law, landlords must have the consent of the tenant(s), before the Landlord enters the apartment. Once you sign a lease and are living in the apartment, you have the right of possession. This means you legally possess, inhabit and use the apartment and that nobody else can deprive you of this (provided your lease and/or contract arrangement is still valid). The Landlord still owns the apartment, but he does not possess the apartment. This is a crucial distinction.
The Landlord, if he/she wishes to enter the apartment, must give reasonable notice. Normally, this means at least 24 hours' notice. Furthermore, the Landlord must be specific as to the time and day he/she wishes to enter the apartment.
In addition, the tenant(s) must give the Landlord PERMISSION to enter the apartment, if they want to show it to prospective/future renters. The only time a tenant is required to grant the landlord access is when the landlord needs to inspect, repair and/or maintain the premise. That said, even here, the Landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice of the inspection, repairs and/or maintenance. They and/or their employees or contractors cannot come into your apartment whenever they wish.
Landlords, despite the fact that they own the apartment, do not have a "blank check" to enter the apartment at will. They cannot use force or threats of force to gain entry into your apartment. And finally, they are prohibited by law from locking tenants out of their apartment. This is called a "self-help eviction" and it is clearly barred by statute. If this happens, tenants should call the police. This sort of "self help" eviction is not only illegal in NJ, but it is also considered a criminal act (a misdemeanor/disorderly persons offense).
My South Jersey Law Office regularly serves the NJ communities of Camden, Bellmawr, Runnemede, Deptford, Westville, Gloucester Township (Blackwood, Glendora, Erial, Sicklerville, Blenheim, Lambs Terrace, Chews Landing, and Hilltop) and Washington Township, (Turnersville, Sewell, Hurffville, Grenloch, CrossKeys, Bunker Hill and Chapel Heights).
If you live in these areas, or any other area of South Jersey and are facing the intrusions of a threatening and bullying landlord, then contact my office immediately for a free consultation. I treat every client with extra-special care and go over the evidence and facts of their case, in-depth, so that no stone is unturned in their legal case.
Call us for quality, compassionate, and individualized representation: 856-873-3730