Home Buying in East Orange>Question Details

sims.montisha, Renter in East Orange, NJ

is it normal for a landlord to ask for deposit two months ahead of time without lease or agreement?

Asked by sims.montisha, East Orange, NJ Fri Dec 16, 2011

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My landlord is asking for a 1.5 security deposit and the rent is $1400.00 a month, What should I give him?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 17, 2013
It is not normal or legal to ask for 2 months deposit and you should have some type of written agreement before giving any amount of monies to the landlord.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 6, 2012
Agreed - NO WAY - no monies should change hand until there is a fully executed (signed by both parties) lease in place. Then deposit monies should be held in a separate account and the landlord should show evidence that it is in place.

Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service, Unsurpassed Results
Web Reference: http://www.FeenickHomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 6, 2012
NO....period.... and I HIGHLY suggest a lease be executed prior to you giving out ANY money.
If you are not working with a realtor to find a rental, I suggest you do so to make sure it is a legal rental.

I get the feeling that you found a rental online where the "owner" is out of the country and requesting the "deposit" then will be back in time to get you the keys and the lease. Is this the case?

Here's a link to the NJ Truth In Renting brochure, which outlines both landlord and tenant obligations.


Page 9 clearly states:

The security deposit cannot be more than one and one-half times one month’s rent.
It can be less. Any additional yearly security deposit increase may not exceed 10%
of the current security deposit. A landlord may not charge a pet security deposit if it
exceeds one and one-half times one month’s rent when combined with the regular
security deposit.

The landlord may only require one and one-half times the tenant’s monthly rent as
security and the first month’s rent at the inception of the lease. That means the landlord
may not require more that two and one-half times the monthly rent at the inception
of the lease, this includes the security deposit and the fi st month’s rent.

(JUST A NOTE: the above statement doesn't include any commission that might have to be paid if you are using a Realtor. Sometimes the tenant is responsible for the commission too, which is usually the equivalent of one months rent....this can increase your total outlay of money to 3.5 times the monthly rent)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 6, 2012
No. This is not normal. In NJ, the maximum security deposit for a residential lease is 1.5 months rent. From your question, it appears that the landlord wants first and last month's rent in advance. If the last month's rent is the security deposit, it should be specified as a security deposit. If you do not have a lease (or even if you do), it might be a good idea for you to speak with a real estate attorney before moving forward with this. Robert Bruckner, Coldwell Banker.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 15, 2012
I find that some ask for two months security if there are pets. You should always have a proper lease and never sign anything sight unseen.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
No it is not normal. You should never give a deposit without an agreement.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
He can request it. You don't have to pay it! NJ says one and half months security, not two. Why would you give him a check without the protection of a signed lease? Something is fishy here. You should run a check on your future landlord to make sure he is on the level. If this is a multiple unit building, why not knock on a few doors and introduce yourself as a potential new neighbor. Ask for their opinion of their landlord and the way he handles complaints, repairs etc. Depending on their answers you might reconsider renting this apartment.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 18, 2011
In New Jersey, 1.5 months of security is all that is allowed under current law. The landlord may have or may not have a right to collect this payment two months in advance, who cares? Common sense should tell you that something is wrong if he asks this. Your obligation is to pay on your start date, not before, not after. Yes, there will be provisions for a five day period before penalties, but I'm not answering this.

What if you paid two months in advance and it turns out the present tenant decides to stay? You will now have a problem waiting for the landlord to return your money. He may start with the excuses of a problem tenant and that they'll be moving any day.

None of this will matter to you when you're on the street waiting for your apartment, and no money to secure another. OR, the landlord may be in foreclosure and need the money for other purposes.

Any time a landlord asks for more than you are legally obligated for or so far in advance, red flags should go up.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 17, 2011

Red flags should not be ignored.....

There is a lot of fraud involving non-owners renting property that does not belong to them, asking for deposits and rental amounts in advance of a signed agreement and keys. Under these circumstances, you would be well within your rights to require proof of ownership prior to providing any money.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 17, 2011
You should never pay the deposit until you have a lease agreement. It is fine to provide the deposit at the same time you sign the lease but otherwise, just say no. Typically you would pay 1.5 months security deposit and the first month's rent at the time you sign the lease agreement and then your next rent payment would be due one month after the start date of the lease. In other words, if you sign the lease today, December 17th, and the lease actually begins January 1st, you would pay the security deposit, 1.5 months, and the rent for January 2012, sign the lease and you would not have to pay rent again until February 1, 2012. So, it is OK for the landlord to ask you to pay these amounts two months before the lease actually begins, (in our example, you might pay today but the lease would not begin until February 17, 2012) but not until and unless there is a signed lease in place. And absolutely do not pay more than 1.5 months security deposit. If the landlord evey ASKS for more than that, walk away. In my opinion, if they start by breaking the law you will have nothing but trouble with them the entire time you live in their property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 17, 2011
It isnt legal for the owner to ask for more than 1.5 months security deposit. i would recommend you do your due diligence on the owner
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
Hi Sims.montisha,

New Jersey only allows landlords to collect up to one and half months for a security deposit and you should have lease agreement that includes the deposit amount. Beware of any landlord that is requesting a full deposit amount before you sign a lease.

Best of luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
Hello sims,
No! It is not normal for a landlord to request the deposit money two months in advance without anything in writing. Don't ever give a deposit without an agreement in writing signed by both parties.

I suggest that you check with the tax assessor's office to determine the name of the owner for verification.

But it does sound like a scam to me. Be cautious!

Laura Feghali
Prudential Connecticut Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
That doesn't really sound normal to me but everyone does things differently. One thing that you should do is call a local real estate office and ask them if they could tell you who the owner is. Make sure that you are dealing with the person who actually owns the property. There is a scam going around where people will list properties for rent and they don't even own the property. A lot of times these properties will be vacant bank owned properties and the person listing it for rent will tell you to send them a deposit and they will tell you that they will send you the keys and the lease agreement in the mail or something like that.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
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