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What can landlords do about illegal occupants?

Every landlord hopes for a smooth and respectful tenant relationship. But what happens when unauthorized individuals move into your rental property? Individuals living in your rental property without your permission are illegal occupants. They can disrupt your plans and cause headaches.

Can illegal occupants cause trouble?

Illegal occupants are those who reside in your rental unit without your permission or a valid lease agreement. This can include:

  • Subtenants who have not been approved: If your lease agreement prohibits subletting, and a tenant rents out a room or the entire property without your knowledge, those occupants become illegal.
  • Overstaying guests: Short-term guests who end up staying for weeks or months without your consent.
  • People not listed on the lease: An individual not included in the lease agreement but moves in with your tenant.

The presence of illegal occupants can lead to several problems, including:

  • Overcrowding: This can violate fire codes and health regulations.
  • Increased wear and tear: More people using the property leads to faster deterioration.
  • Unforeseen financial burdens: Extra occupants might strain utilities and increase unexpected wear-and-tear costs.

Illegal occupants may also tend to disrupt the peace of the area and can alter the intended living environment for your tenant.

What legal actions can you take as a landlord?

If you discover illegal occupants in your New Jersey property, do not try to manage the situation yourself. Some landlords may lean toward illegal eviction, which can get you in trouble. Illegal or self-help eviction typically include changing the apartment’s locks, removing the tenant’s private property from the unit or turning off utility services.

Before acting, review your lease agreement, especially the specific clauses regarding occupancy limits and subletting. You may serve your tenant and the illegal occupant a notice to vacate or comply with the rules stated in the lease, and if they refuse to conform, you may file an eviction complaint at the court with the help of a professional.

Tenants usually have a 30-day notice to comply, but laws may change and vary depending on the area so you may want to seek legal counsel before anything else. Remember, acting legally is crucial to avoid jeopardizing your rights.



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