• FreeAdvice has a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, effective May 25, 2018.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our Terms of Service and use of cookies.

NJ - Tenant trying to claim relocation expenses!

Accident - Bankruptcy - Criminal Law / DUI - Business - Consumer - Employment - Family - Immigration - Real Estate - Tax - Traffic - Wills   Please click a topic or scroll down for more.

Well it's been just about three months, one tenant still has not paid a dime in rent. He keeps claiming he is waiting for my father to file a non payment eviction so he can deposit the rent money with the court and ask for a hearing, as he feels that with all of the problems that he is due money. My father has exhaustively consulted with many attorneys and it doesn't look good. None of them will even give him a shred of an idea on what this is going to cost. They said because the tenant has a habitability issue, they can't do any sort of flat rate but instead will bill hourly. One attorney said "if I am speaking to anyone about your case including you, doing paperwork, research, or even thinking about your case, my rate is $250 per hour". Basically they are giving him their hourly rates, and leaving it at that.

Many of them have also warned him that if relocation expenses are to be paid, that the unpaid back rent will NOT be deducted?!!! Meaning that even if a tenant owes six months in back rent, the court can still make the landlord pay 6 times monthly rent, meaning the tenant gets to walk with even more? This cannot be right? Who in their right mind would create such a law! I understand that the whole point of the law is to discourage this sort of activity by landlords, but isn't there a limit?

He can't even pay his own mortgage at this point, as most of his income is now gone. He also got contacted by code enforcement, they said since he did not comply with their order to restore the property to a single family home, they are referring the matter to the local municipal court. Basically by what I have gathered, he is going to eventually be forced by the court to file an eviction based on an illegal occupancy. Code enforcement has already told him that there is no way to cure the property with the tenants living there, so therefore they will have to move no matter what. I don't know how long it is going to take for that to happen. The question is, what is going to happen when my father is ordered to evict the tenants, and he can't even afford a lawyer to do so? He is under an LLC so he has to have an attorney, and it is my understanding that no matter what there is no exception to this. If he can't afford an attorney then he can't evict them, despite the mandate from the township.

Is my father going to end up going to jail?
 


Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
In other words - your father rented out an illegal unit and now expects to collect rent?

ETA: I should have read the entire thread. As you have been told, your dad needs an attorney. He made his bed, etc.
 
I understand that the apartment is illegal, however it is my understanding that the courts do not hold the black and white position that if you have an illegal apartment, you can just live there for free. If that were the case then people would just seek out illegal homes over and over again and pull no rent scams and essentially live rent free for the rest of their lives.

He expects to collect rent because they are CHOOSING to still live there, nobody is forcing them, they are free to leave at any time. But because they are still there, I believe that there should be payment. Although they are claiming a case of habitability from many different things that have taken place in the unit, and I don't necessarily disagree with the tenants on this.

I told the tenant myself that if they move by the end of the month, we would not seek any legal recourse, including suing in court for the back rent. He laughed in my face, told me that my father CANNOT sue for back rent, that his case would be thrown out of court in five minutes, and he even said "I dare you to come after me". This tenant is smart, very cocky, and quite full of himself. He claims that since the apartment was illegal, there is no way a court can grant a judgment for back rent.

I understand it's illegal, but it's starting to get to a point where I feel like the tenant is taking advantage of my father.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Well it's been just about three months, one tenant still has not paid a dime in rent. He keeps claiming he is waiting for my father to file a non payment eviction so he can deposit the rent money with the court and ask for a hearing, as he feels that with all of the problems that he is due money. My father has exhaustively consulted with many attorneys and it doesn't look good. None of them will even give him a shred of an idea on what this is going to cost. They said because the tenant has a habitability issue, they can't do any sort of flat rate but instead will bill hourly. One attorney said "if I am speaking to anyone about your case including you, doing paperwork, research, or even thinking about your case, my rate is $250 per hour". Basically they are giving him their hourly rates, and leaving it at that.

Many of them have also warned him that if relocation expenses are to be paid, that the unpaid back rent will NOT be deducted?!!! Meaning that even if a tenant owes six months in back rent, the court can still make the landlord pay 6 times monthly rent, meaning the tenant gets to walk with even more? This cannot be right? Who in their right mind would create such a law! I understand that the whole point of the law is to discourage this sort of activity by landlords, but isn't there a limit?

He can't even pay his own mortgage at this point, as most of his income is now gone. He also got contacted by code enforcement, they said since he did not comply with their order to restore the property to a single family home, they are referring the matter to the local municipal court. Basically by what I have gathered, he is going to eventually be forced by the court to file an eviction based on an illegal occupancy. Code enforcement has already told him that there is no way to cure the property with the tenants living there, so therefore they will have to move no matter what. I don't know how long it is going to take for that to happen. The question is, what is going to happen when my father is ordered to evict the tenants, and he can't even afford a lawyer to do so? He is under an LLC so he has to have an attorney, and it is my understanding that no matter what there is no exception to this. If he can't afford an attorney then he can't evict them, despite the mandate from the township.

Is my father going to end up going to jail?
Then, given that he's not getting any rent, has to undo the work he's done on the house, and is unlikely to get any rent in the foreseeable future, he needs to bite the bullet and just hire one. Because he has shown such colossally bad judgement so far, perhaps you should choose one for him before things get much worse.
 

Shadowbunny

Queen of the Not-Rights
Here's the thing: your father has been a horrible LL to these tenants and I don't blame them for their actions. Your dad 1) created this situation then 2) exacerbated the situation. Had he not been such a dunderhead to these folks, they probably would be paying rent and no one would have known that dad created an illegal rental. Those laws aren't unfair -- those laws are to discourage people from doing illegal things.
 

FarmerJ

Senior Member
John try to understand some history with states in the north east, NJ, NY, NYC, Ma, DE had a lot of years to learn what kinds of bad things LLs did to tenants SO in reaction to the things LLs did to their tenants so laws were enacted to address it including punishments to LLs. Those punishments are that harsh in order to try to let some landlords learn via example of what is done to other landlords as punishments . Look at NY & NYC and what they do to landlords who create non legal units, and yes the punishments are harsh because so many property owners have in the past did every thing they did do to make money, so the laws hit the wallet extra hard since that's the only thing some really understand. Before it gets any worse your dad should consider just paying what it will take to get those tenants out and be done with the whole thing and put it up for sale. ( as to the tenant who refuses to leave , Id lay odds this whole mess wouldn't have happened if there had been sufficient heat and less nonsense with the letters he wrote even if the units were not legal the tenants might have just let it all blow by ( Ive known renters from out there who knew full well the rental units they lived in were not legal and the price was decent so they choose to just deal with it)
 
Last edited:
Yes, the municipality ordered him to restore the home to single family. However, he can't because the tenants still live there. Correct me if I am wrong but right now there are two tenants that live in completely separate apartments. I would imagine that my father could get into serious trouble if he just knocked the wall down and took these two tenants and put them together in one unit. So he can't do that. This is why the township is saying that the tenants have to be removed for the violation to be cured.

He has to knock down the wall, but he cannot do it while the tenants are there. He can't evict them unless he has the money for an attorney, and he doesn't have the money because he is not getting his rent.

I would think just sell the house, but who in their right mind would purchase a house with these sort of issues? Two tenants to get rid of, code violations, etc. I don't see a way out of this, simply because he has next to no resources.

My concern is what do they do when it gets to a point where they have to be evicted, but the landlord cannot afford an attorney? Is there a point where the government just has to step in, hire their own attorney for the purpose of enforcing the law?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I understand that the apartment is illegal, however it is my understanding that the courts do not hold the black and white position that if you have an illegal apartment, you can just live there for free.
In essense, yes, they can (and do).
If that were the case then people would just seek out illegal homes over and over again and pull no rent scams and essentially live rent free for the rest of their lives.
...or until those who wish to try to rent out illegal units see the light and stop doing that.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
My concern is what do they do when it gets to a point where they have to be evicted, but the landlord cannot afford an attorney? Is there a point where the government just has to step in, hire their own attorney for the purpose of enforcing the law?
The city may have the option to condemn the house.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Maybe Dad can move them into his ever so helpful girlfriend's place while working on the house. It was her great business acumen that got him here.

The lease has been breached. Your father failed to live up to the terms of the lease, and in fact he cannot provide what was promised in the lease - not legally.

There are other reasons than non-payment of rent to evict a tenant.

The fact that it is illegal to rent it as is, and what has to be done to the house to make it habitable and code compliant, are reasons to focus on.

Of course, wait until the lease ends and don't renew it would also work... How many months are left on their leases?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I have to wonder - how can one evict someone from a place they were never allowed to rent out in the first place? It doesn't seem fair that the tenants would end up with an eviction on their record in this sort of case.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
I have to wonder - how can one evict someone from a place they were never allowed to rent out in the first place? It doesn't seem fair that the tenants would end up with an eviction on their record in this sort of case.
The tenants have lived there for 6 months rent free. Legally, because it's an illegal rental with habitability problems, they can do that, I guess.

But they are crossing that line from disgruntled tenants to squatters if they know that there is no way for the LL to bring the place into compliance and insist on staying there... rent free.

Perhaps the premises need to be condemned.
 
Both leases are expired. Already been down that route, many arguments. The end answer is, they are residential tenants, and cannot be evicted without cause, regardless of the term of the lease at they have automatically converted to month to month. I watched my father arguing with the know it all tenant who isn't paying rent, saying that his lease is expired. He even sent notices to him as well, the tenant basically told him to "do his worst" and he guaranteed that any money he paid for an attorney to try and evict him on an expired lease would be a waste as he would lose.

In regards to the eviction of the tenants. I am sure that if they are evicted for the purpose of an illegal occupancy, it does not reflect badly on them despite being on record. The tenants have zero fault if a landlord does something illegally. The eviction would simply be because the township cannot allow it under law.

I don't think the tenant has the intention of living there for free forever, he knows that there is a time limit as the township is actively moving forward. Both tenants have had countless issues with the heat, central air, plumbing, not to mention other things I don't want to mention here due to the gravity of the situation, just in case the wrong eyes are watching this forum. In my opinion the tenant is interested in collecting that 6x monthly rent relocation expenses. I think if he moves out too soon that he might lose his rights to collect it as it's only specifically for tenants who are removed for an illegal occupancy and that's it. So I think if he were to move out a few months before that all hits court, he would have no recourse. Which is why he and the other tenants have both said they are "digging in until the end".
 
Sponsored Ad

Top