Rentals in Fort Lee>Question Details

FrustratedIn…, Renter in Fort Lee, NJ

Landlord has rented to me without Certificate of occupancy

Asked by FrustratedInFortLee, Fort Lee, NJ Fri Dec 13, 2013

I found out recently due to another situation that my landlord has been renting to my family and I, for about 2 years, without a cert of occupancy. From what I have read, this has been a breach of contract from day 1, as well as negligence on the part of my landlord. Correct? The Dept of Buildings person I spoke to called it an "illegal rental" and was going to get in contact with the landlord. There have been issues with the home that I have notified the landlord about previously, and they have not taken care of as well - not minor issues. They have looked at them, and basically said "not that bad - we'll get around to it" or in the case of the roof had a couple guys take a look at it - and do nothing!) Leaking roof near food and electric outlets(not too bad, but when it rains it rains inside and has now caused other damage), leaking pipes, broken/damaged entrance steps to start. Any recommendations?

Thanks,
Brian

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First of all, the Landlord IS responsible for getting a CO for each new renter in NJ.
Since you notified the town, expect that to be scheduled soon.
It mostly addresses safety issues.

When they visit, they make sure you have the right Smoke Detectors, Fire Extinguishes and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in place. Some towns do a more extensive inspection. It depends on the town.
They would be concerned about water leaks around electric outlets and other heath issues.
If you have issues that are health related be sure to point them out.

Do you want to stay in the home? If you like where you are, I suggest you work things out with the owner. If the owner is not responsive, you may decide to move on.

Legal action is not as easy as it seems. They generally require documentation, which most people do not have. Otherwise, it is your word against his.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 14, 2013
Thanks much for your advice on this. We may be deciding to move on instead of what is becoming a dispute with the landlord on these issues before things get uglier.
Flag Mon Dec 16, 2013
Discuss with the Landlord and if a resolution is not agreed upon, further action may be needed if decided upon.

Also, make sure the Landlord has the legal right to be a Landlord, there are a lot of scams going on due to the crises.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 14, 2013
Thanks for your response!
Flag Mon Dec 16, 2013
Brian, What is it that you want?

By your words "From what I have read, this has been a breach of contract from day 1, as well as negligence on the part of my landlord. Correct? " sounds like you want all your money back.. or to sue the landlord or something. You already notified the town? Then you should keep on top of it let them run with it.

If you want to make the landlord fix the issues, you need to be 100% in your thoughts and document them well. I am not suggesting that you are not stating the facts, but saying to be sure and document what you are having problems with. Remember, you are renting his property and you most definately do have rights as a tenant, but once things get ugly, they stay ugly... there is no fixing ugly.

A lot of people are reccomending legal advice. This is a very easy thing to tell someone, but it is going to cost you money and if all you want is repairs and a CO for your money, go for it.

Other than that. You have rights as a tenant. Be realistic and approach it wisely.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 13, 2013
Thanks much for your response!
Flag Mon Dec 16, 2013
Definitely get some legal advice. Failure to get the appropriate/required CO for your town could invalidate your rental contract. Have you documented your repair requests in writing? The things you say need fixing are not minor issues. Keeping good records about this sort of thing is important and helpful. Another option is to speak to your county's landlord/tenant court representatives. They may be able to offer some advice on how best to proceed as well. Good luck on resolving things! Sorry you have to deal with this, especially at this time of year.
.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 13, 2013
Talk to a lawyer. They will be able to tell you if you can sue for damages and whether or not this constitutes a breach of your lease contract.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 13, 2013
Do get legal advice.
Do not withhold the rent
Do document all the stuff that needs fixing.
What the town will do is cite the landlord for all the quality of life violations and require them to be fixed within a reasonable period of time.
If he fails to do that then as a last resort the town may require him to pay for alternative housing for you
Good luck.
Flag Fri Dec 13, 2013
As Larry and John suggest, taking your next step wisely.
IF you don't have another place to live..proceed with extreme caution.
Seems you were quite comfortable, FOR TWO YEARS.
Why have you remained there for TWO YEARS in the center of the HAZARDS you describe?
OH, because you are paying under market rent.
Make sure you have a place to go before you throw stones at the king.
The king WILL find someone else willing to pay under market rent.
Or someone with three evictions.
Or someone with terrible credit
Or someone who will pay cash.
Proceed wisely.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 14, 2013
Thanks for your response. I plan to take my next step wisely, that's why I am asking advice here! Why have we stayed "comfortable" for two years? We have not - We have raised these issues when they started to the landlord, who at the time either applied quick patch fixes (which didn't work) or said they would have "somebody" take a look, which they never did, and things have deteriorated over time. Under market rent? Evictions? Terrible credit? You make some seriously bad assumptions - you must be one of those "kings" you speak of. I'm not going to touch the economics of supply and demand for you, but I will say what we pay is definitely not "under market" from what I have seen and read. Further, I must assume that you believe that those with evictions, bad credit or cash payers should have no basic tenant rights? Shame on you!
Flag Mon Dec 16, 2013
Look for another place to live and speak with an attorney about compensation from the landlord. In addition contact your state attorney general's office and file a complaint as well as your state's real estate commission. Both can be found quickly simply by Googling NJ State........

Property owners/Landlords like deserve to be shut down.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 14, 2013
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