Coughlin Measure to Increase Fairness in Tenant/Landlord Residential Agreements Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin to require a residential landlord to pay attorney’s fees for a tenant who is successful in a legal action between the two when the landlord carries the same right through the lease was advanced by an Assembly panel.

Coughlin noted in the bill that the legislation aims to increase the fairness in landlord tenant proceedings and help discourage landlords for initiating unfounded eviction cases against a tenant.

“In contract agreements between a landlord and tenant, there must be legal fairness for both parties,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Either party can be exposed to fraudulent claims by the other party. The intention of the bill is to deter false claims by sharing the reimbursement terms in lease agreements.”

Currently, landlords often provide in lease agreements that the tenant will be responsible for the landlord’s attorney’s fees if the landlord is successful in a legal action involving the tenant. The bill (A-3851) would instruct the courts to read into the lease an additional requirement for the landlord to pay the tenant’s legal fees if the tenant is the successful party.

“This is a small legislative action would increase protection for New Jersey’s residential tenants,” added Coughlin. “Most importantly, it will insert much-needed fairness into decades of unfair practice.”

The bill also would provide that six months after enactment any new lease agreement containing a requirement for the tenant to pay the attorney’s fees of a successful landlord would also be obligated to contain language clearly indicating a requirement for the landlord to pay the attorney’s fees of a successful tenant.

The measure was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee; and it will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration. TLS.

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  1. my landlord sent me eviction notices which were illegal. I had to hire a lawyer to stop him from banging on my door at any time to leave. He said he has the law on his side and he can easily evict me. That was 10 months ago. We are now placing all our rent in an escrow account with our lawyer. The landlord is not fixing anything in our resident including a broken window which is broken. he is trying to force us out by not maintaining the property.

    The only thing we can do is wait until he takes us to court which will cost us more money. But we will win in court.

    He has no legal right to evict us- but what do you expect from unzerer.

    he states he needs to evict us in order that he he can sell the house. In NJ you cannot evict for such reasons.

    Suggestion – there is an organization called

    they are worth the $25 dollar membership fee.

    PS if your landlord purchased the home with an organization or LLC- he can never evict you. Even if he wants to move in – unless you dont pay rent. there is also rent control on how much they can charge. find out what the last tenant paid.
    A lease is automatically renewed…

    an individual only has a right to move in within 60 days of purchaseing. A company or organizations cannot evict as they cannot move into a resident.

  2. To #2 good to know that, but I guess is little late for me, I was evicted from a rental a couples years ago, because my landlord apparently sold the house, we moved out, and then she didn’t give us the $2000 for the security deposit. I was told that it was too expensive to bring the case to court so I just gave up! Her name is (moderated)

  3. To great news # 2,

    If necessary to make your residence habitable, and your landlord ignores your documented requests, you may deduct the necessary amount from your future rents toward the necessary repairs. But be sure to immediately send the receipt/s via trackable post to your landlord and deposit a copy of the doc w/ the escrow lawyer or at least refer to the repairs in a memo on the rental check. YFY 🙂

  4. What will happen is that the there will now be multiple lawyers offering to represent the tenant at exorbiant prices, with a stipulation that they will not charge if they lose. So landlord will run great risk. There is no risk the other way around, as lawyers will not offer this, as most tenants cannot pay anyways.
    This is not making it fair, just unfair.
    What should be done, is give the judge discretion to make the landlord reimburse if it was a frivolous case.

  5. To # 4,

    Don’t be such an oiber chacham.. Fairness dictates that the Tenant be afforded the same rights in court as the Landlord. If you have a problem with that, then you need some serious re-evaluating in your understanding of what it means to be equally fair to all involved parties in a dispute.

    Additionally, all lawyer’s fees charged and awarded to either side will continue to require (as they’ve been until now) the Judge’s consent to the reasonable-ness of fees requested. Exorbitant prices won’t receive a judicial pass for either party..

    Regardless though, your position still discriminates against the tenant because you believe that the tenant should only be reimbursed if the landlord bring a “frivolous” lawsuit. But on the other hand, if the Landlord wins even a “non-frivolous” case he still gets to collect???

    I’m sure glad you’re not writing our laws..

  6. To Daf Guy,
    Obviously you were never in the business. Please tell me when was the last time a landlord actually collected the lawyer fees. In most cases, the tenant does not have money, or is not willing to pay.
    The landlord though, will always have to pay. So what is fair?
    In reality, it will be much more worthwhile for landlords to strike the lawyer fees clause from the lease, as it’s pretty much worthless, and with this new proposal, will only be a liability.

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