Should I Sell my Home in Winter? Tips from a NJ Real Estate Attorney

nj real estate attorney

Do the frigid temperatures and snowy weather turn you off from potentially selling your house during the winter season? Although spring and fall are the most popular times to sell a house, there are always going to be people searching for a new home in every season. With updated technology and on-the-go apps, homeowners are less likely to have difficulty in selling, regardless of the weather. Since there are less homeowners who attempt to sell in the winter, your market competition will sparse and buyers will have less options.


Putting your house on the market during the holidays doesn’t have to spell disaster.


Selling your house during the winter provides its own advantages; all you have to do is show off your cozy abode and create an enjoyable experience for potential buyers. Here are a few ways you can set up a welcoming environment despite the frightful weather that may be brewing outside.

1. Warm and cozy

A cold house will probably lead to a cold first impression for a potential buyer. Play to the buyer’s senses by heating up the house. Not only should the temperature be cranked up, but create an inviting mood. Add a warm touch to each room by adding an area rug in a cheerful hue, draping a blanket over the back of an armchair, or folding a comfy quilt at the end of a bed. Warm tones and a cozy mood will make all the difference in the prospective buyer’s showing experience. A few cookies out on the counter or warm apple cider cooking on the stove may be an invitation for the buyer to stay around and ask questions. If you happen to have a fireplace, be sure to get that fire crackling, as this will add ambience and heat!

2. Let there be light!

It’s perplexing to designers as to why the perfect lighting sets the mood for a house hunter, but it definitely makes a big difference. Areas in the house where the buyer is going to have a first impression, such as the entryway, should have warm, bright lighting. Roll up the blinds, open the shutters, and turn on all of the lights in every room. Because of daylight savings, darkness arrives sooner, and buyers are not going to want to see a dim house. If you do have a darker room, add a spotlight or two to give it some warmth. Winter days can be dreary, but with a warmly lit hearth, you’ll be sure that your house is a beacon of light.

3. The outside appearance matters, too

Yes, the indoor appearance of the house is crucial, but house hunters aren’t only going to be observing what’s on the inside. Begin by clearing all entryways of snow and ice. Make sure each path is clear so that the doors are easily accessible. Though your patio furniture may go into hibernation in the winter, buyers are going to want to see the potential of an outdoor patio or porch. Try adding a spotlight, taking your patio furniture out of hibernation, or placing a fire pit in the yard or on the patio to brighten up the outdoor space.

4. Emphasize specific spaces

If you have areas in your house that are more useful during the winter months such as basement playrooms, indoor exercise spaces, or a heated shed, be sure to bring attention to them. Clear the area of any unrelated items so that the room’s true purpose can be accentuated. Since winter is prime time for hosting parties and other festivities, whet the senses of potential buyers by setting up a holiday display. Decorate as you would to entertain so that guests can see the entertainment potential of a certain space in your home.

Trends in the New Jersey housing market are constantly varying, but as a home seller, it’s important to stay up-to-date on what will appeal to the most potential buyers. Obviously, you want your house to offer a unique look, but not so different that it turns off most buyers. In the winter, it’s easy to let things slide, such as keeping up with the cleaning, making necessary house repairs, etc., but you need to be sure to keep your house clean and inviting – even on the outside. By taking these tips and coming up with a few of your own ideas, you’ll be more likely to sell your house during the coldest time of year.

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Applying for and Refinancing a NJ Home Equity Loan

 

Do you have a brilliant idea for a new house project?

Have you been trying to figure out how to pay for the new roof you’ve needed for a few years?

If you’re nodding your head, a home equity loan (HEL) or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) may be the answer you’re looking for.

A home equity loan can provide you with access to a large amount of money with which you can complete a project with the added benefit of borrowing against the value of your home. A home equity loan is essentially a “second mortgage,” with your first mortgage being the one that you used to purchase your home.

Because this kind of loan is locked in by your house, a home equity loan can be relatively easy to obtain from a bank or lender. The beauty of a home equity loan is that it can provide funds for virtually anything you want, as long as your home is worth more than you owe (in your first mortgage) – and you’ve built up enough equity.

Home Equity Loan Options: Lump-Sum or Line of Credit

 

A home equity loan as a lump-sum is like any other loan; you attain a large amount of money up front and then pay it back with fixed monthly payments. Your interest rate will be set when you take out the loan. With each monthly payment, the total that you owe on the loan will decrease.

A home equity line of credit works much like a credit card. You’ll be approved for a specific amount of money and then only use what you need. Following approval, you can borrow money in small amounts, but at some point, you’ll need to make larger payments to finish paying off the loan.

Because a home equity loan can offer a fixed and steady repayment schedule, it can be a valuable way to decrease debt or pay for large expenses. If you’re considering completing a home improvement project, a home equity loan could be beneficial, especially since it’s a one-time remodeling project that involves directly investing money back into your house.

Other valid uses for a home equity loan:

  • Paying for a college education (for you or your child)
  • Making a vehicle purchase
  • Eliminating credit card debt
  • Investing in the stock market or real estate

You can also use a home equity loan for any other one-time investment that has value. Additionally, you may want to consider refinancing a home equity loan. If you are looking to decrease your monthly payment or want to lock in a lower interest rate, refinancing would be helpful. In addition, if you want to change from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate or vice versa, you should consider refinancing. While completing the project (or paying for school, etc), you may discover that you need a bit more money than expected, and refinancing could allow you to obtain supplemental funds or potentially extend or shorten your repayment period.

If interest rates have lowered from when you first purchased a home equity loan or if you’ve dramatically improved your credit score, always be sure to check into refinancing. As previously mentioned, if you switch from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate while interest rates are low, you can guarantee that the interest rate will stay that low throughout the rest of the life of your home equity loan.

If you’re considering taking out a home equity loan or refinancing one that you currently have, visit your credit counseling attorney who has your best interests at heart. Here at Veitengruber Law, we can also connect you with trusted lenders with whom we have cultivated valuable professional relationships. From there, you’ll meet with a lending specialist who has experience with refinancing home equity loans.  Refinancing a home equity loan can save you money, provide access to money, and help you reach your financial goals!

What are the Duties of a Bankruptcy Trustee?

 

A NJ bankruptcy trustee is responsible for completing the administrative tasks of a specific bankruptcy case and is typically appointed by the New Jersey bankruptcy court. These individuals are not judges, but are sometimes lawyers, though that is not a requirement. The trustee’s jobs include (but are not limited to): management of all of the petitioner’s bankruptcy paperwork and documentation, leading the meeting of creditors, and handling the liquidation of the petitioner’s assets.

When filing for bankruptcy, you need to first gather the necessary information and paperwork, either on your own or with the guidance of your New Jersey bankruptcy attorney. Based on the New Jersey exemptions, it’s also important to figure out what property (of yours) is exempt from seizure. Once you have filed for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will take legal control of all debts and properties that are not free from New Jersey exemptions.

The next step in a NJ bankruptcy case is when a trustee will be assigned. His or her responsibility is to review your paperwork in a detailed manner, especially any possessions and exemptions you want to claim. You may contest any decisions or rulings made by your trustee. About one month after you’ve filed, the trustee will be responsible for calling a meeting of creditors. The debtor must attend this meeting.

A trustee either deals with Chapter 7 cases, where the profit is made from liquidating (selling) the petitioner’s nonexempt property, or Chapter 13 cases, in which the profit comes in the form of a repayment plan. Because the trustee receives a portion of what he or she can collect for the filer’s creditors, the trustee has a powerful incentive to collect as much as possible for the creditors.

Regarding Chapter 7 cases, there are typically no non-exempt assets. If there are non-exempt assets, you will have to release non-exempt property, or the cash equivalent of its market value, to the trustee. This takes place following the meeting of creditors. The trustee will then split the proceeds from selling this property to the creditors. In some cases, if the property does not have a high value, the trustee may turn the property back over to you.

Regarding Chapter 13 cases, the trustee is responsible for handling the most important piece of the puzzle – the repayment plan. The trustee will work with the filer to set up a repayment plan of his or her debts. While the filer is in the process of repaying creditors, the trustee will be responsible for collecting the monthly payments and distributing them to the creditors. The trustee will also give the petititioner occasional updates on who has been paid and how much is still owed to each creditor.

Because bankruptcy trustees have a significant role and power in the bankruptcy system, it’s important to start off on the right foot with the trustee that is assigned to your case. A working relationship with your trustee will be vital, especially if you are involved in a Chapter 13 case. Be meticulous and honest when completing the bankruptcy forms and make sure you let the trustee know immediately if you’ve made a mistake. Open communication will make the bankruptcy process easier for both you and the bankruptcy trustee.

Image: “November 9th” by Kate Hiscock – licensed under CC 2.0

What Does the Recent Tax Reform Mean for the NJ Real Estate Market?

It is not a “Happy New Year” for New Jersey residents and prospective homeowners when it comes to the new tax plan that was unveiled at the White House last week. Essentially, a tax increase is the way these homeowners are starting 2018, as the cap on state and local tax deductions is now $10,000. Not only did taxes go up, but the state housing market is also affected.

New Jersey residents pay one of the highest tax rates in the federal government but experience one of the lowest returns of federal spending of any state. At the center of the first federal tax code reform in 31 years is a steep corporate tax cut that proponents of the legislation hope will unleash the nations’ economy. Of course, to make up for dramatic corporate tax cuts, deductions are placed under the microscope. Unfortunately, some of these targeted deductions have been particularly beneficial to New Jersey residents in the past.

If a current or prospective homeowner was paying $10,000 with pre-tax dollars and they’re now paying $14,000, in reality they will have to pay about $5,000 to pay the additional difference of $4,000. Fourteen thousand dollars in real estate taxes doesn’t compare with the top 5 New Jersey towns when it comes to their 2016 Average Residential Tax Bill. The municipality of Tavistock comes in at number one with the 2016 average bill at $31,132.

As a current homeowner, you may wonder how this will affect your property value. The landscape doesn’t look very green. Nobody knows for sure; as real estate markets are affected by more variables than just real estate taxes. The most affected consumer lives in 1 of 7 New Jersey counties that make up the top 10 in the United States. These are the consumers who will lose the most in home prices across the nation.  At the top of the Average House Price Decline list is Essex County which will take a hit of 10.5%.

Some grim scenarios propose that high-income residents would migrate to other states, a slowdown in home sales would affect contractors and home building businesses and stores, and the already high-taxed state would see even higher taxes.

As mentioned before, there are many factors that enter into the real estate market and New Jersey realtors must continue to sell the same way even with the uncertainty created by the new tax plan. With a low-inventory market or, in other words, when there are more buyers than sellers, and when you write off your full real estate tax amount, the real estate market is much more stable. It has been considered a sellers’ market for some time now with sellers getting considerably more than just their asking price in many cases. Eager buyers may now delay making a move from renting to buying or purchasing a bigger home for their growing family. Those who invest in real estate and current landlords will be able to pass along these tax increases to their tenants.

Normally, if the economy holds steady, the real estate market follows suit or self-corrects. Of course, the true impact won’t be known until spring has sprung and the real estate market begins to bloom.

5 Ways to Get Caught Up on Bills After the Holidays

 

debt resolution

Just as a little too much partying on New Year’s Eve can leave you with a painful hangover — a little too much spending during the holiday season can result in a financial hangover. Unfortunately, the latter can’t be cured by drinking plenty of water and getting some extra rest.

When your out-of-town loved ones have gone back home and the decorations are starting to come down, credit card debt and crumbling finances can be a cold, unwelcome reality check. While we want our holiday memories to last a lifetime, holiday debt is something we’d really rather not think about. Avoiding the truth about how much you really spent on gifts for all and sundry won’t make the problem disappear; what it will do is snowball the interest and late fees.

5 effective ways to begin tackling your excessive holiday spending:

 

  1. Assess the Situation/Make a Plan

Tackling excessive debt is anything but fun, but it can’t be avoided. Begin by looking over all of your banking statements and making sure that you agree with all listed charges. Then, make a list of your debts from smallest to largest (based on total amount) to get an idea of  how much you’re in the hole for. Next, create a list of their interest rates from highest to lowest.

Once you have a clear picture of what you’re dealing with, choose either the Snowball or Avalanche debt repayment strategy and start working on the plan of your choice ASAP.

 

  1. Return, Return, Return

Did you end the holiday season with scads of decorations, gifts, or other items that were never even opened? Perhaps you bought gifts for a friend’s significant other only to discover that they broke up in November. Maybe you lost self-control and brought home that ridiculously overpriced holiday decoration you’ve coveted for months.

Do not hesitate — GO NOW, this minute, to return any still-in-box, tagged items. If you are able to get your money back – put it to good use by making an extra credit card payment before you have a chance to buy something else you don’t need. Without a receipt? Use store credit to buy something you’d purchase anyway, like home goods or diapers.

 

  1. Work to Cut Regular Monthly Spending

If you have assessed your budget and concluded that there isn’t enough money left over each month to pay off your credit card debt, then reducing your monthly expenses is a must. Chances are, you have at least some recurring monthly payments that could be eliminated or decreased. Try calling your cell phone provider or cable company to see if they have any New Year’s offers or plans that would be cheaper than what you’re currently paying. Be sure to mention that you’ll have to change providers if they can’t lower your monthly bill.

Look around for a new (lower) quote on home and car insurance. Keep searching until you find a company that has the coverage you need and is willing to work with your budget.

Lastly, assess any larger loans you’re currently repaying (mortgage, home equity, education). Consider refinancing or modifying some or all of those more substantial loans. Every dollar you decrease your monthly payments by can go directly toward paying off credit card debt.

 

  1. No Credit Diet

Until you have that credit card debt completely paid off, we strongly recommend putting yourself and your family members on a “no credit diet.” When you purchase anything, use debit cards, cash or write a check (ancient, but still better than spending money you don’t have). Using these forms of payment will avoid racking up any more credit card debt.

 

holiday spending

 

  1. Every Dollar Counts

Everyone has some expenses that could be considered “flexible” – grocery bills, clothing, entertainment, recreation, and more. Determine what items in your budget are ‘must-haves’ and what you or your family could go without.


In short: Evaluate your spending habits and start making better choices until they become habits.


Example: When you’re tempted to buy that five dollar cup of coffee, think about how quickly your coffee habit could put a dent in your debt. Bonus: Getting off caffeine (or reducing your intake) is good for your blood pressure!

We’ve given you a few ways to start lowering that holiday debt that you had so much fun charging last year. Take the tips that work for you and add your own debt pay-down tricks into the mix.


One caveat: If your holiday debt goes far beyond just the recent holidays, and you’re finding your monthly minimums are more than you can handle, regular debt pay-down strategies probably won’t get you very far. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.


When you’re so far behind on your bills that they just keep piling up, unpaid, on your kitchen table, it’s time to ask for professional help. Call Veitengruber Law. We will provide you with a holistic analysis of your debt and tailored solutions that will get you “back in black.”

The best part about reaching out to us for help?  The first meeting’s on us.

Make an Offer on Your Dream Home or Save for a Down Payment?

 

You’ve finally found your dream home and you think you’re ready to buy, but unfortunately it’s not as easy as ringing the doorbell and claiming the house. The decision to buy can be the start of a tricky dance between buyer and seller, typically with real estate agents acting as mediators. Your agent will be able to help you with questions you may have on the potentially daunting process of buying a future home, but this guide can help you get started.

When is the “right” time to buy a home?

Deciding on the right time to make an offer on a house can be an intimidating task, especially if the house appears to have all you ever wished for and more. Because a down payment can be an important part of buying a home, you need to be aware of your borrowing capabilities with and without a down payment when making a home purchase.

What is a down payment?

A down payment is a specific portion of the total cost of the house that the lender requires you to submit up front in order to qualify for a mortgage loan. The more money you are able to apply towards the down payment, the lower your interest and monthly mortgage payments will be. It is ideal if you can save up an amount that is at least 20% of the home’s price.

Is a down payment required?

Without question, it’s vital to wait to make an offer until you have a handle on your finances, as it makes the buying process easier. When you make an offer on your dream home, you should know how much house you can afford – meaning you’ve been pre-approved to borrow a set amount of money from a lender. Sellers are inclined to go with buyers who make a solid offer and have proof of exactly how they’ll come through on that offer. Depending on your finance history, credit report, asking price of the home and requirements set out by your lender, you may not be required to make a 20% down payment.

What is earnest money?

Most likely, you will be required to submit an “earnest money” check or money order, which will be held in an escrow account until closing, if the seller accepts your offer. Earnest money is a good faith deposit that the seller requests before they agree to sell their house to you. This deposit shows that you are serious about purchasing the house and that you are most likely financially capable of following through with paying off the house. The earnest money deposit (EMD) is typically listed on the Multiple Listings Sheet (MLS) and is usually submitted with the offer. Because it is possible to lose your EMD, it is recommended not to submit a higher EMD than what the seller lists on the MLS. The EMD can be lost if your contract with the seller is breached without an acceptable reason or if another potential buyer’s offer is accepted over yours.

How can I avoid losing my EMD?

 

Real estate breach of contract happens all the time – and it’s usually not something that the buyers could have seen coming on their own. Although your real estate agent is an expert in selling homes, it’s possible that they aren’t as versed in real estate law as a NJ real estate attorney. Trust in your real estate agent, but once you have a contract in hand, it is always wise to have it reviewed by your favorite real estate lawyer.

Working with both an experienced real estate agent and a real estate attorney won’t guarantee that you’ll land the home of your dreams, but it will increase your odds. Do you have questions about your real estate contract? Fill out this simple form and have your questions answered by a professional and experienced New Jersey real estate attorney.

Estate Planning Challenges: What Happens When Your Ex-Spouse Dies?

Getting married for a second or third time can bring a lot of joy, but it can also present new challenges, especially regarding how your estate plan financially affects current and former family members from your past marriages.

An important part of estate planning is understanding under whose ownership certain assets and property are currently held, as well as how they will be allocated in the future. Updating all of your account titles and designations, such as beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and insurance policies, is a must after a marriage, whether it be marriage number one or marriage number five.

Be sure to put all of your intentions in writing, so that there are no questions about what assets are to be distributed to children from your current vs. previous marriages. For example: if you want your current family to inherit your house, you’ll need to change the names on the legal documents associated with your home. If real property is not transferred correctly, your family may become homeless or experience unintended hardship after you or your spouse dies.

Alimony is a legal obligation for one person to financially support an ex-spouse after divorce in order to maintain the lifestyle that was experienced during the marriage. As part of a divorce agreement, a judge can order for alimony to be awarded, but it must be in accordance with any state laws. When an ex-spouse dies, a financially difficult situation can arise if you rely solely on alimony for income. In an unfortunate situation like this, it is typical that your alimony payments will discontinue unless your divorce decree specifically states otherwise. You may, however, be able to file a claim with the court against the estate of your ex-spouse to receive any unpaid alimony.

The estate of your ex-spouse will go through the probate process when he or she passes away. The administrator that is appointed to oversee the estate will pay any remaining debts and allocate assets to the beneficiaries. If your ex-spouse was indebted to you for past alimony or other monies, you will become a known creditor to their estate and can therefore submit a claim for said funds that are owed to you.

Although it makes perfect sense, the concept that alimony does not typically continue once an ex-spouse passes often isn’t given much thought until the time comes. You may very well need to discover new ways to supplement your income once alimony payments cease, so it is best to be prepared for this.  Many couples, especially those who have children together, elect to include each other in their respective life insurance policies as the beneficiaries. This will ensure that the surviving ex-spouse and any children from the marriage will be cared for adequately.

If you are considering tying the knot for a subsequent time, there are many important aspects of estate planning and beneficiaries that you should have a solid understanding of. This will eliminate or lessen the amount of confusion as to what assets stay with or go to each person when an ex-spouse dies. Along with forming an estate plan can come discomfort, but having a plan in place can bring peace and comfort. To learn more about estate planning if you’re preparing to wed again, reach out to our office with any questions or to initiate a free one-hour consultation.

Saving for Retirement When You’re Self-Employed

Being self-employed has its fair share of benefits, but requires extra attention to financial planning for the future, especially retirement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015, there were 15 million Americans that were self-employed. Self-employed individuals have to provide their own healthcare and benefits and save for their retirement. These tasks can be difficult when individuals cannot necessarily count on a steady paycheck and a regular income. You may not feel ready to start saving thousands per year, but when that time comes, a retirement plan will be extremely useful. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers various plans with unique advantages for those who are self-employed.

  1. Simplified Employee Pension IRA

Contributing money to this account will allow it to grow tax-free until retirement. You are able to invest up to 25% of your net earnings up to a maximum, which ended up being $53,000 (in 2016). This type of plan is easy to set up at a bank, mutual fund company, or brokerage firm, and some banks allow you to open one online. This kind of account is simple, easy to establish, and increases flexibility because it lets you decide how much you want to contribute throughout or at the end of the year. If you do have employees working for you, you are required to invest the same amount of money into their accounts as you do into yours.

  1. SIMPLE IRA

This savings incentive match plan for self-employed individuals and their employees allows individuals to put 100% of their net earnings into the account, up to $12,500 (in 2016). Individuals older than 50 can contribute $3,000 more each year for “catch-up” deposits. Employers are also required to pay a 2 to 3% company contribution to this account for employees, which could potentially allow you to add more than $12,500 per year. The money that you add is tax-deductible and remains tax-free until you begin drawing money out of the account. It is typically used by small businesses with employees, the self-employed, and solo entrepreneurs. Unfortunately with this type of account, contribution limits are lower.

  1. Solo 401(k)

This type of plan is a good choice for individuals with a large income and is typically used by sole proprietors and businesses owned by couples because it allows for larger contributions. It is possible to add up to $18,000 per year (in 2017), in addition to $6,000 for those age 50 and older. Adding to these amounts, you can contribute an additional 25% of your self-employment net earnings, for up to a total of $54,000 (in 2017). The negative side of a solo 401(k) is that it requires more paperwork than a Simplified Employee Plan (SEP) IRA. If there are employees other than your spouse that work for the business, it is no longer a “solo 401(k).” A normal 401(k) plan is not exempt from discrimination testing.

It is always in your best interest as an entrepreneur and business owner to do research on your current and future income and be knowledgeable about the direction of your business. If you need more information than is available here, Veitengruber Law can put you in touch with a professional financial adviser in our trusted network.

Top Money Arguments Couples Have and How to Stop

Facing money problems for couples is not unknown territory. Chances are, if you and your partner are like most couples, money can often be a touchy subject. Unfortunately, studies have proven that fights about finances are able to predict divorce rates. The scary thing is, these arguments can begin even before you and your partner get hitched. Today, we’ve got a few tips to help you avoid and/or resolve these challenges.

Problem #1: Differences in Spending Habits

One of the most common financial issues that a couple may face is how they are going to manage spending. More often than not, one partner gets labeled the “spender” and the other one the “saver,” but labels are never beneficial for a relationship and can lead to tension. When one person takes care of the grocery shopping, bills, and ensuring that the family and home needs are met, and the other spends their money on frivolities, one can see how frustration can easily boil over into arguments. The key to avoiding an argument is to side-step any surprises. A budget will assist in planning out monthly spending so that both parties know how much money is necessary for bills and other living expenses. This will help “the spender” to understand that they are possibly spending too much money on unnecessary things. Creating a budget together is a great way to improve communication and get closer as a couple, as well.

Problem #2: Past Debts

Most people come to the altar with some kind of financial baggage, whether it’s school loans, credit card debt, car loans, or even alimony and child support if this is a second marriage. If you are entering into a relationship and you have a lot of financial strife, it can sometimes feel like you’re dragging your partner down, but it’s important to remember that no one is perfect. Dealing with debt as a couple can actually strengthen a relationship, and in fact, by working together, you can reduce the debt more quickly. Again, working out a plan to pay down your past debt together (even if the debt is one-sided) will increase feelings of being on the same team.

Problem #3: Separate or Joint Accounts?

Should you have separate account for personal expenses and a joint account for household expenses or two totally separate accounts? From which account will you draw money to take care of your children? These are just two examples of the many questions couples frequently find themselves asking when determining how to best merge finances. Many times, this argument can leave one person feeling hurt because they feel that their partner doesn’t trust them enough to share a bank account together. The desire for separate accounts does not indicate that your partner doesn’t want to be close to you. In fact, it can be a good idea to keep separate accounts for many couples. Finding what works for you and your spouse will take time and some “from the heart” conversations. Whether you create a joint account or continue to maintain your own bank accounts, approach this subject with love and care, so as to avoid unintentionally hurting your loved one.

Solution: Good Communication

As we all know, good communication is the key to any successful relationship – romantic or otherwise. In order to navigate the maze of marital finances (spending habits, debt, bank accounts and more) – you need to come together as one. Approach financial conversations with an open mind, while being cognizant and respectful of your partner’s personality and opinions. If at all possible, discuss your ideas about finances when you are still dating. It never hurts to get the ball rolling as soon as possible on a topic as loaded as this one. The sooner you begin to get comfortable talking about money, the better off you’ll be – long after you say “I do.”

 

 

How to Legally Sublet an Apartment in New Jersey

When you signed your current lease, you more than likely had every intention of fulfilling that lease, whether it was for 6 months, a year, 2 years, or more. However, as we all know, life is sometimes messy and unpredictable. If life throws you a curve ball you weren’t ready for, (and is anyone ever really prepared for a curve ball?) you may find yourself wanting or needing to break your lease.

Reasons NJ tenants break leases

Your life may have shifted in a good way or surprised you with some unwelcome roadblocks, like:

  • A new job – Perhaps you received a surprise job offer you can’t turn down, but it’s across the country.
  • A job transfer – You may be told that your job location will be moving and unless you acquiesce, you’ll quickly be unemployed.
  • Divorce – Never planned for but all-too-common: if you signed the lease together and then split up, one of you has to move out.
  • Marriage – You’ll potentially need more space or need to relocate.
  • Job loss – Regardless of the reason, finding yourself without an income may mean you can’t afford your rent.
  • Health problems – Your 6th floor walk-up sounded charming when you signed the paperwork (“The stairs will keep me in shape!”). That outlook can quickly change with the diagnosis of a chronic illness or an injury that has created limitations on your mobility.
  • Family issues – (Example): When your 70 year old mother falls and breaks her hip, she may ask you to move in with her until (and if) she regains her mobility.
  • Military duty

What to do if you need to break your New Jersey lease

When and if you find yourself in any of the above or other extenuating circumstances, you’ll need to become extremely familiar with all of the terms of your lease. While you may not have read the terms as closely as you should’ve when you signed, now is the time to learn exactly what your lease states regarding your rights to move out early.

Many leases include a list of acceptable reasons for breaking your lease. If your reason falls under that list – you’ve got it made! However, if you don’t find what you’re looking for in the fine print of your lease documents, all hope is not lost.

If I move out early will I have to pay the remainder of my rent?

Lucky for you, landlords are required to at lease make an attempt to find a new tenant under New Jersey law (Sommer v. Kridel, 378 A.2d 767 (N.J. 1977)). This is true even if you break the lease for an unlawful reason. Landlords are legally held responsible to make an effort to find a new tenant if you have to move out before your lease ends.

To help things along, you can attempt to find someone to take your place as a tenant under your lease. Your landlord doesn’t have to accept your proffered tenant, but is likely to do so as long as they have decent credit and can provide solid references. Any landlord would much rather “sublet” your rental if you have to cut out early than lose thousands of dollars while the apartment sits empty.