By law, every landlord of a dwelling, except owner-occupied premises with not more than two rental units, must file with the clerk of the municipality in which the residential property is situated, or with the Bureau of Housing Inspection in the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), a certificate of registration. N.J.S.A. 46:8-28.
The certificate must contain the following information:
(a) The name and address of the record owners. If such owners are a partnership, the name of all general partners. If such owners are a corporation, the name and address of the registered agent and corporate officers;
(b) If the address of any record owner is not located in the county in which the premises is located, the name and address of a person who resides in the county in which the premises are located and is authorized to accept notices from a tenant and to issue receipt therefore and to accept service of process on behalf of the record owner;
(c) The name and address of the managing agent of the premises;
(d) The name and addresses, including the dwelling unit, apartment or room number of the superintendent, janitor, custodian or other individual employed by the record owner to provide regular maintenance service;
(e) The name, address and telephone number of an individual representative of the record owner or managing agent who may be reached or contacted at any time in the event of an emergency; and
(f) The name and address of every holder of a recorded mortgage on the premises.
In addition to the filing of the registration statement, landlords are required to provide each tenant with a copy of the registration certificate. This should be done when the tenant moves in. It behooves the landlord to have the tenant sign and date a copy “received”, which should be made a permanent part of the tenant’s file.
In court, a judgment for possession cannot be entered if the landlord has not complied with this registration requirement. Non-receipt of the statement is almost a standard defense by tenants who are represented by competent counsel to avoid an immediate judgment of possession. The court has the authority to stay the proceedings for 90 days to allow the landlord to come into compliance. If the landlord has not come into compliance within this 90 day period, the landlord’s action for possession will be dismissed.
About the Authour: Bruce E. Gudin, Esq. is a Partner with the firm of Levy, Ehrlich & Petriello, P.C. headquartered in Newark, New Jersey. He can be reached at (973) 643-0040, ext. 104 or by e-mail at Bruce@LEP-lawyers.com.