Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus

Posts Tagged ‘violation’

The Importance of Drafting Proper Notices to Quit in a Commercial Tenancy

In an unpublished decision, issued on November 7, 2011, by New Jersey’s Appellate Division, the importance of drafting a notice to quit in accordance with the law is highlighted.  In Sanguiliano v. Walker, 27-2-4205 App. Div., Plaintiff’s summary dispossession action was based on her alleged disorderly conduct and violations of the landlord’s rules and regulations.  The dispossession action was governed by the requirements of the Anti-Eviction Act.  According to the Appellate Division, the “notice to quit” did not identify any “continued” disorderly conduct or violation of the landlord’s rules and regulations committed by defendant after her initial receipt of the “notice to cease.”  Because the notice to quit was defective, the Appellate Division ruled the trial court should have granted defendant’s motion to vacate the default judgment for possession and dismissed plaintiff’s complaint.  It reversed the judgment for possession.

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What Is a Notice to Quit?

Commercial landlords are occasionally confronted with a situation where one of their tenants is not abiding by the lease. Some commercial landlords feel that they can simply lock the tenant out of its space as result of any breach under the lease. This is not the case under New Jersey law. Any landlord who resorts to self help risks being sued by a tenant for any number of causes of action, including, but not limited to, wrongful eviction, trespass, and breach of contract.

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What To Do With a Non-Paying Commercial Tenant

Anyone who owns rental property in New Jersey knows that this State is pro-tenant – at least with respect to residential tenancies. Commercial tenants, however, are not accorded the same “protective” approach most tenancy courts in New Jersey take toward residential tenants. For starters, unlike residential tenants, commercial tenants are obligated to leave the premises once their lease expires, unless the parties agree upon a new term, or an extension of the old term. In addition, courts are less hesitant to enforce a lease provision against a commercial tenant, even if it is considered onerous. After all, business is business and unless a lease term is against public policy or requires the doing of something illegal, courts, in a commercial setting, will enforce the lease.

Maybe because of this perception that commercial leases are “business” deals, many commercial landlords are of the mistaken impression that once a tenant fails to pay rent, they can simply avail themselves of what is known in legal circles as “self-help” and lock the tenant out of his rental space. As I pointed out in an earlier post regarding the process known as distraint, it is rarely a good idea for a landlord to do this. Under most circumstances, a court will look askance at such behavior unless the landlord can show a compelling reason for having done so – particularly in light of the fact that New Jersey has in place statutory provisions that allow for “summary” dispossess of a tenant who is in breach of its lease.  

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