Does the same apply in New Jersey?
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Asked April 3, 2018
For the most part, the answer to the question that you linked to is the same in New Jersey. Landlords are required to provide a "warranty of habitability." Essentially, when you sign your lease agreement, the landlord guarantees that the residence will be habitable and safe. A tree on a roof poses a safety hazard in a lot of ways. For example, debris from a fallen tree could fall off of the roof and strike someone below. Damage to the roof might allow water to seep into the structure and create a health hazard because of mold growth. Damage to your personal property can also occur.
When a repair situation comes up, the landlord must repair the structure in a reasonable time frame unless the lease agreement you signed stated that you would provide repairs. It's atypical though for a lease agreement to state that the tenant will provide that type of repair since tenants pay rent. That said, sometimes a landlord does state that tenants are responsible for the removal of fallen trees. In that case, you might have to pay to remove the tree and then the landlord would pay for the repairs.
You can withhold rent if the landlord states that they won't make the repairs at all or if your landlord drags their feet on getting it done. You might also be able to withhold rent if the landlord hasn't supplied you with a reasonable alternative residence, such an apartment in a different part of the same building, another vacant rental property or a hotel room. Landlords maintain property insurance and that insurance might cover the cost of temporarily relocating a tenant. That said, your own renter's insurance might also cover the cost depending on the terms outlined in your renter's policy and your unique situation.
The Legal Services of New Jersey provides free information about rental property repair topics on their Your Right to Safe and Decent Housing page. The page provides rent withholding advice. There is also a section about acquiring a court order that requires the landlord to pay for repairs. Lastly, you can request free or low-cost legal help. For more details, check out the LSNJ's Get Legal Help page.
Answered April 9, 2018 by pbanion