NJ Host Of Party Law…Alcohol served at parties…

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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NJ Host Of Party Law…Alcohol served at parties…

Dear Sir or Madame,
My cousin is ignorant of the host liability law in New Jersey.
She owns a 2 family home. Rents the 2nd floor to a male tenant
and his girlfriend. She, as the landlord and owner, allows the
tenant to host parties in her backyard where booze is served.

I have advised her that if one of her tenant’s friend gets
drunk and drives home and on the way home his car veers off the
road and kills a mother and a child walking on the sidewalk.
She as the owner of the home and property that gave permission
to the tenant, would be liable along with her tenant for damages.
For the civil part of the proceeding, her home insurance would cover
for negligence in whole or part, and whatever is not covered would come
from her assets home, car, bank accounts et. al.

Good chance also, she and/or the tenant may have criminal charges filed
and that means insurance does not cover criminal case fees. That will
come out of her pocket. Jail time may be involved also.

I advised my cousin that I will pay for one hour of a litigation
attorney’s time to go over liability in the State of New Jersey
to ‘wake her up’ since she does not believe me that this could not happen.

John W

Asked on August 6, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The issue is where in the home is the party being held. IF the party is held in a part of the home under the exclusive control of the tenant (e.g. the rental unit itself, where the landlord has no right to enter or interfere with the tenant's use other than for repairs and maintenance), then the landlord would not be liable: landlords are not liable for what tenants do in their rental space. 
But if the party occurs and alcohol is served in a "common area" (like a backyard) which is at under the landlord's control to some degree or another, then, as you point out, the landlord could be liable for what goes on there, including for injuries arising from alcohol consumption. Therefore, your cousin should not allow the tenant to serve alchohol in any areas under her control; what the tenant does complete in his own unit, however, is the tenant's concern and liability, not the landlord's.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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