Q: What can I do about my landlord filing an eviction as retaliation
I've been with my current landlord since Jan 19, in April I discovered a bedbug, my apartment was above a filthy store. I was moved into another one of his multi dwelling units due to the situation, after needing to throw away all of my belongings. After moving into new unit my 7 year olds foot went through the wooden floor, I asked for them to repair it among other things we found wrong, and was told you don't like it leave. It took 2 months and a call to health department for it to be fixed. Then we noticed a bad mouse infestation, we had to call the board of health again. He's been using an unlicensed exterminator, he filed for eviction saying reason was property damage, although we didn't cause any, he's using before and after photos of repairs the health department ordered him to make. We are being retaliated against for exercising our tenant rights to safe and sanitary conditions.
It sounds that you have habitability issues with your apartment. Habitability issues are protected under NJ law. The day of court for your eviction matter, you or your attorney can explain the conditions of the apartment. If there is any back due rent, you will have to deposit that rent with the court until the Landlord abates the issue (this is called a Marini hearing). Yourself and your landlord will be called into mediation to ensure that the issues were resolved.
Further, your landlord is going to have to prove that you caused damage to the apartment in a knowingly or reckless manor. If it is a mere hole in the door, I assume your landlord will have a tough time proving his case. I would recommend getting an experienced Tenant attorney by your side. Feel free to contract me for a free in office consultation.
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