The New Jersey Anti-Eviction Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-53, et seq.) provides protections for tenants being wrongfully evicted. The law provides that landlords cannot simply evict a tenant. Instead, landlords must show good cause to remove the tenant before taking any eviction action. For example, landlords can seek to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent, habitual late payments, and for failure to comply with the landlord’s rules. But what happens if the landlord wants to sell the property?

Under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(l)(3), an owner of a building with three (3) residential units or less, who seeks to either personally occupy a unit or has a contract to sell the unit to a buyer who wishes to personally occupy the unit, has good cause for an eviction. Essentially, a landlord does have the right to place a unit for sale. In order to have cause for eviction, the buyer of the home must personally occupy the unit and the contract must call for the unit to be vacant at the time of closing. A landlord’s failure to meet these requirements will prevent them from showing good cause for an eviction.

Even if the landlord has found a buyer who wishes to occupy the unit and has a contract for sale that calls for the unit to be vacant, the landlord must meet additional requirements under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2(f). A landlord must provide a tenant with a valid two (2) month Notice to Quit prior to seeking an eviction for the purpose of selling the unit under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(l)(3). The Notice to Quit must be in writing and clearly state the reason why the tenant must quit the premises and how long the tenant has to leave.

Most importantly, the tenant’s lease must be expired before the landlord can begin an eviction action and sell the unit for occupancy. For example, if a tenant entered into a one (1) year, written lease and the lease still has three (3) months before the one-year term is up, the landlord can provide the two (2) month Notice to Quit, but cannot file an eviction action until the lease term expires. The landlord would have to wait until the lease expired before filing an action. If, on the other hand, the lease has already expired and the tenant is residing in the unit on a month-to-month basis, the landlord may provide the Notice to Quit and will only have to wait the two (2) month time frame before filing an action.

In the event the landlord seeks to sell the unit to a buyer who wishes to continue renting the unit, a tenant has the right to continue to occupy the premises so long as no other good cause for eviction exists. If this situation were to occur, the tenant should make sure that the buyer of the property has the security deposit transferred from the former landlord.

Matthew R. Tavares focuses his practice in Litigation, Employment Law, Workers Compensation and Municipal Court matters. He is a trained mediator and has successfully mediated small claims and special civil part matters.

Mr. Tavares received his Juris Doctor from Western New England University School of Law in 2013, and obtained licensure in New Jersey in the same year. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History and Criminal Justice in 2010 from the University of Delaware. Matt is a member of the Hunterdon County Bar Association, is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association. Matthew was sworn in as a member of the New York State Bar in February 2016. You may contact Matt at (908) 751-1551, or [email protected]