I’m Permanently Disabled: Can My Landlord Evict Me?

wheelchair

Although the housing market has recently become more attractive due to lower interest rates and down payments, millions of Americans still live in rental properties. Many renters say that they prefer to rent rather than own a property. In fact, Americans paid more than $441 billion last year in rent. Some younger renters say they enjoy renting because of the flexibility it affords them. They can move relatively easily for work or family without the added worry of needing to sell a home first.

There is a subset of renters, however, who would own a home if they could. They may be held back by a low income, bad credit, unemployment or underemployment due to a disability.

As a renter living on a small income or disability check, making rent every month can sometimes be touch and go. There may be months where the rent gets paid a few days late. Some landlords say they are ok with receiving rent payments several days late as long as no month’s rent goes completely unpaid. Tenants who start missing whole months of rent payments run the risk of being evicted.

A landlord has every right to evict a non-paying tenant with only a few exceptions, as long as he does so legally and properly through the court system. If you are a renter and you feel you have been wrongly evicted, there are several defenses you may be able to use against your landlord when fighting the eviction:

  • Landlord changed the locks – If you one day find yourself locked out of your rental with no prior legal notification of being evicted, chances are good that your landlord carried out a “self-help” eviction, which is illegal. NJ landlords must go to court and win their eviction lawsuit with a court judgement before eviction can occur.
  • Landlord missed utility payment(s) – If you are being evicted for non-payment of rent because your landlord did not pay the utility bills and you chose to pay them yourself (while deducting the amount from your rent payment) – you have an eviction defense. If your landlord is required, according to your lease, to pay all utility bills, and fails to make good on that part of the agreement, you may be contacted by a utility company. If you choose to pay the utility bill in order to avoid having utilities shut off, your landlord can’t evict you for deducting the charges from the amount you pay him in rent.
  • Landlord didn’t make necessary repairs – NJ landlords are required by law to provide their tenants with heat, running water, electricity, and functioning sewage disposal. They must also meet all NJ state (and local) housing/health codes. If your landlord has failed to meet these requirements, you can make the repairs yourself or pay to have the repairs completed and deduct the cost from your monthly rent payment. To do this though, you must have evidence that you provided your landlord with sufficient notice that the repair(s) were necessary.
  • Landlord is evicting based on discrimination or retaliation – If you have recently exercised your legal rights against your landlord, he is not permitted to evict you within 90 days of your actions. If your landlord attempts to evict you immediately after you have enforced your rights as a tenant under your lease or under NJ state law, it will be considered a retaliatory act, and is illegal.It is also unlawful and illegal for any landlord to evict you based on discrimination. If you are disabled, and feel you have been evicted solely because of your disability, you may have a claim against your landlord.

If you have received notice that your landlord is already in the process of trying to evict you via the court system, it is time for you to hire an experienced NJ attorney who specializes in real estate matters.

Image credit: Warrnambool City Council

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2 Responses to I’m Permanently Disabled: Can My Landlord Evict Me?

  1. Pingback: Do I Have to Pay Rent if the Home I Rent is in Foreclosure? | Veitengruber Law

  2. Pingback: Breaking a Rental Lease: Renter’s Rights | Veitengruber Law

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