Attorney Derek Reed appeared before the New Jersey Supreme Court on June 1, 2021 on behalf of New Jersey landlords to comment on the Report and Recommendations of the Judiciary Special Committee on Landlord Tenant.
Attorney Reed advocated for a more efficient and fair process by eliminating one of the two virtual case management/settlement conferences recommended by the Committee before trial and to impose reasonable consequences for a party’s failure to participate in such conference.
Attorney Reed highlighted that some of the new procedures being recommended by the Committee will unnecessarily and unreasonably delay the time it will take for a landlord to recover lawful possession of its property and hurt landlords, especially small to medium size owners.
He noted that New Jersey law limits the security deposit a landlord can demand from a tenant to 1.5 times the monthly rent, which is woefully inadequate to cover the loss of rent and other costs a landlord will realize by the time it can recover lawful possession of its property under these new procedures.
Attorney Reed also objected to the Committee’s recommendation to require a tenant only deposit 50% of the rent due and owing with the court when a habitability defense is raised, arguing that 100% of the rent would otherwise be due and should be protected in escrow until the matter is adjudicated, barring any legitimate expenses the tenant has incurred as a direct result of the alleged habitability claim.