Illegal Basement Apartment in New Jersey

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Illegal Basement Apartment in New Jersey

I have lived iin an illegal basement apt for 17 years. I am moving in September and I need to save money. I told my landlord that I wasn’t going to pay rent. My landlord told me he would lock me out if I didn’t pay rent. Is this legal

Asked on June 28, 2009 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Absolutely not.  The fact that the apartment might not be legal, from a zonining or housing code point of view, does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that the landlord is exempt from the law governing evictions.  If you don't pay the rent, the landlord must use the process through the courts to evict you, there are no exceptions.  And the landlord "makes his own exception" and locks you out, you can sue him for double damages plus attorneys' fees.  Because of this, you should be able to hire an attorney if he does this to you, but I'd recommend talking to a lawyer ahead of time, for a detailed explanation of how the entire eviction law process works.  One place to find an attorney is our website, www.attorneypages.com


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