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  • NJ A4610
  • Codifies and enhances use of breach of implied warranty of habitability as defense to certain eviction actions.
Introduced
(2/27/2017)
In Committee
(2/27/2017)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
Tenants have the right to safe, sanitary, and decent housing. New Jersey Courts recognize that residential leases carry an "implied warranty of habitability." This means that a landlord has a duty to maintain the rental unit and keep it fit for residential purposes throughout the entire term of the lease and that the landlord must repair damage to vital facilities. If the landlord breaches his obligation of maintaining the property at an adequate standard of habitability, a tenant may withhold the rent or a portion of the rent to be used as a set-off, because of the deficient condition. If the landlord institutes an eviction proceeding for non-payment of rent, the tenant is entitled to use the landlord's breach of his obligation to provide a habitable residence as a defense and justification for the set-off (deduction of rental payment). An eviction is an actual expulsion of a tenant out of the premises. A landlord must have good cause to evict a tenant. There are several grounds for a good cause eviction. If a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord may immediately take legal action to have the tenant evicted. Although a tenant may assert a breach of the implied warranty of habitability as a defense in a landlord's eviction action for non-payment of rent, the defense is rarely raised. This bill would codify and expand upon the court-created doctrine of the implied warranty of habitability in order to enhance the use of the doctrine as a defense to residential eviction proceedings. This will help prevent the eviction of unsophisticated tenants and help ensure that rental housing in our State meets reasonable standards of habitability. The bill provides that a tenant may assert a breach of the implied warranty of habitability as a defense and set-off in a landlord's action for summary dispossession or non-payment of rent. If a tenant proves a breach, the court would reduce the tenant's rental obligation to the reasonable rental value of the property in its imperfect condition, and be entitled to an offset in the amount of the cost of all repairs made by the tenant which the landlord was obligated, but failed to make. The bill also provides that a tenant who asserts a breach of the implied warranty of habitability as a defense shall not be required to deposit outstanding rent with the court, unless and until the court reviews a report from a code enforcement official, who has inspected the premises for the existence of code violations, documenting the extent to which the health or safety of residents are impaired or threatened by the condition of the premises. Based upon the court's review of the report, the court may, for good cause shown: · order the tenant to deposit rent owed with the court; · transmit a copy of the report to Department of Community Affairs; and · transmit a copy of the report to any agency that administers a State or federal housing subsidy with regard to the residential property that is the subject of the action. The bill also empowers the court to order suspension of the payment of any State or federal housing subsidy with regard to the residential property that is the subject of the action until remediation of any code violation or until further order of the court.
Not specified
Assembly Housing and Community Development Hearing (19:00 6/12/2017 )  (on 6/12/2017)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
6/12/2017 Assembly Housing and Community Development Hearing (19:00 6/12/2017 )
2/27/2017 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified