Rent Payments to a Landlord: Better Late Than Never?

Lease Agreement

By: Racquel G. Hiben, Esq.

As a landlord, you have an expectation that the tenant will pay their rent on time. Often times it is imperative that the tenant do so in order for you, as owner of the rental, to pay the mortgage and/or taxes on that property.

What can you do if your tenant continuously pays their rent after the due date? Can you evict them for violation of the lease terms? The answer is yes.

Steps to Evicting a Tenant for Nonpayment of Rent

The NJ Anti-Eviction Act provides that a landlord can seek eviction of a tenant if the tenant, after receiving a written notice to cease, has habitually and without legal justification failed to pay rent which is due and owing. However, the process to get to that point is somewhat complicated.

A landlord must first look to the terms of the lease to determine whether the tenant is paying within a grace period provided by law or the terms of the lease. Under New Jersey law, a tenant has a five day grace period to pay the rent after the due date, and often times, landlords provide a longer grace period in the lease. If the payments are made within a grace period, then the payments will not be considered “late” under the Anti-Eviction Act.

If, however, the rent payments are made past the grace periods, the landlord must send a Notice to Cease to the tenant by personal service or regular and certified mail. The Notice must explain what portion of the lease the tenant is violating, that they are violating the Anti-Eviction Act and that they must cease making late rent payments or they will face eviction.

After the Notice to Cease is sent, the landlord must accept a series of late payments from the tenant to demonstrate that the lateness is habitual. However, each time that the landlord accepts a late payment, the landlord must continue to notify the tenant, in writing, that the late payments are a continued breach of the lease.

The landlord must then send a Notice to Quit and Demand for Possession to the tenant. The Notice to Quit contains a demand that the tenant vacate the premises on a date no sooner than thirty (30) days from the date of the notice because they continue to pay the rent late. If the tenant does not vacate by the date in the Notice to Quit, the landlord can then file a lawsuit with the court to seek eviction.

Residential Real Estate Attorneys for NJ Landlords and Tenants

The attorneys at Gruber, Colabella, Liuzza and Thompson have effectively assisted both landlords and tenants in navigating the legal requirements to obtain an eviction or defend against eviction. If you need assistance in real estate law or have any questions about the process outlined herein, please call 973-398-7500 for your free legal consultation.

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