Can a new landlord ask for a security deposit and rent increase with just 4 days notice?

My landlord just purchased the 3 family home I live in. I received a letter yesterday asking for a security deposit and that my rent would be increased in 4 days. Is this legal? Also, she wants to make our heating and water bills equal and just divide the total in 3. The living conditions are below acceptable as there are leaks in the ceiling, asbestos in the basement and lead paint.

Asked on May 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

First of all, a landlord (even a new one) can’t raise the rent until the end of the lease period. So, if you have a 1 year lease, the landlord can’t raise the rent until the end of that year. If your agreement doesn’t say it’s a lease for a specific period of time or if you don’t have a written agreement, then you have what is known as a "month-to-month tenancy". With such tenancy a landlord can usually raise the rent as much as they like after giving 30 days notice. The laws differ from state-to-state as to how the landlord must inform the tenant of a rent increase. However, if a landlord doesn’t give proper notice of an increase, the tenant usually doesn’t have to pay it and the landlord has to give notice over again (just make sure to pay the amount of your old rent). If you are still in doubt about how to proceed, you need to speak with an attorney in your area or contact a landlord-tenant hotline, etc. for more information.
Note: A landlord can’t raise the rent in order to force the tenant to move out for an illegal reason. Federal law forbids discrimination against tenants because of race, gender, national origin, or religion, and some state and local laws forbid discrimination because of things like marital status, sexual orientation, children, or disability.

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