4D — May 11 - 24, 2018 — NJAA Conference & Expo — M id A tlantic

Real Estate Journal


By Jennifer L. Alexander, Esq., Griffin Alexander, P.C. New Jersey residential landlords must make certain disclosures 2018 NJAA C onference & E xpo


andlords in New Jer- sey often handle is- sues concerning how

cases, it may be. Landlords must keep in mind, however, that the disclosure duty can- not be ignored. Failure to disclose pertinent informa- tion could expose landlords, and in particular residential landlords, to potential liabil- ity and damages. Disclosures Required By Law New Jersey contains de- fault disclosures, which are duties that are imposed on the landlord regardless of whether the lease agree- ment includes provisions

for such disclosure, as well as contractual disclosures, which impose additional duties beyond the baseline contractual standard. By way of example, oftentimes landlords include a provi- sion in the lease agreement that requires the landlord to regularly inspect the com- mon areas and disclose to the tenant if there are leaks or insulation issues. This disclosure burden is not imposed by New Jersey law, but given that the landlord has agreed to the additional

burden, this obligation must be followed. As such, landlords have the option to agree to a number of unique disclosures that are tailored towards a particular tenant. However, please bear in mind the disclosure duties that landlords in New Jersey must follow regarding: • Lead paint hazards • Asbestos hazards • Structural property dam- age (water, fire, insect, mold) • Flood zone concerns • Rent control exemptions • Truth in Renting statement

of the tenant’s legal rights and duties • Statement of the tenant’s right to request child protec- tion safeguards • Presence of latent defects affecting the “habitability” of the premises Please keep in mind that the above is not an exhaus- tive list of all of the disclo- sures that landlords have a duty to provide to tenants, and landlords should contact their attorney to receive fur- ther guidance. Available Defenses Landlords who have failed to make a required disclo- sure may be able to avoid liability depending on the circumstances. Disclosure is rarely strict, and the land- lord is not expected to have perfect knowledge of every issue. Generally speaking, the landlord is only required to disclose hazards and de- fects that it knows or has a reasonable possibility of knowing. For example, if there is a defect in the prop- erty that is not obvious, even after a thorough inspection, the tenant may have trouble bringing an action against the landlord for damages, given that the landlord could not have reasonably known about the defect beforehand. Speak With an Experienced Landlord- In conclusion, New Jersey law demands that landlords make disclosures to tenants. It is the responsibility of the landlord to keep apprised of the legal requirements and to adhere to them as closely as possible. In some cases, tenants may bring an action against their landlord for a failure to disclose, but the landlord may have a num- ber of available defenses to avoid or otherwise minimize liability. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney who can help you understand your duties and obligations under the law. Here at Griffin Alexander, P.C., our attorneys have decades of experience repre- senting landlords in a range of disputes, including those that involve a purported failure to disclose. Jennifer L. Alexander, Esq. is a partner with Griffin Alexander, P.C.  Tenant Lawyer in New Jersey

much infor- mation they are required to disclose to their ten- ants. It is oftentimes a landlord’s p o s i t i o n that the im-

Jennifer Alexander

position of disclosure duties, particularly on residential landlords, is unreasonably burdensome – and in some

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