Question about Will

There are 11 people attached to my father’s Will. Myself and 1 of the 11 people live in the home. I am the executor of the estate and manage the home. The other tenant pays very little rent where taxes, water, home insurance, and home maintenance insurance is extracted. The other tenant does not contribute anything whatsoever to maintaining the house repairs (i.e. roof, plumbing, electric, trash management). I want to remove the tenant from the home preferably or raise the rent to market rate to assist me with repairs to the home. I’m unsure if I can do either being she is in the Will. The home is paid for and the title is still in

the decedent’s name. What can I legally do?

Asked on December 20, 2018 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

It depends on whether there is a written lease or only an oral (unwritten one) and whether the tenant is complying with lease's terms. 
NJ is a very tenant friendly state. To oversimplify:
1) The tenant is not complying with lease, whether written or oral: you can file for eviction for nonpayment of rent (if that's how they are failing to comply) or send them the statutorily required warning notices for other lease violations, then after that, terminate their tenancy (and file for eviction) if they fail to "cure" or correct the violation.
2) There is an oral (unwritten) lease with which the tenant is complying: you can propose new terms or an increase in rent but must do so in the proper way, on proper notice (at least one month, possibly more, depending on what you are proposing); if you do this the right way and they don't comply (don't sign and honor a new or revised lease; don't pay the increased rent), you could then evict them.
3) There is an expired written lease with which the tenant is complying: treat it as an oral lease under the same terms as the written lease--provide proper notice for new terms or a rent increase, then go from there.
4) There is a still-in-effect (unexpired) written lease with which the tenant is complying: you can't do or change anything until the lease is up.
NJ landlord-tenant law is not just tenant friendly, it is complex: the above does not even begin to reflect its true complexity. Retain a landlord-tenant attorney (you can, as executor, use estate funds to hire the lawyer) to review your situation and help you.


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