Shrewsbury, NJ asked in Landlord - Tenant for New Jersey

Q: Do renter still have possession of APT if they breached the lease by leaving a month early but paid the last months rent

I am a Landlord in NJ. My renter provided 3 months notice prior to terminating the lease and has left one month early. They payed me for the last month's rent and are currently already renting somewhere else . The keys have not been given back to me. Are the keys and the Apartment still considered the tenants possession until the end of the month when the lease officially ends? The Tenant moved out 1 month prior to the lease ending date. Isn't this considered a breach of the lease in of itself ? My additional questions are ..Can I change the locks or do I have to wait? If I have a showing for the APT do I have to contact the renter prior even though they are not living there at this point? Can I get repairs done ? Please advise. Thank You !

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the information provided, here are the answers to your questions:

1. Possession: Generally, if the tenant has paid rent for the entire lease term, they are entitled to possession of the apartment until the end of the lease, even if they have physically moved out. The keys are still considered the tenant's property until the lease officially ends or they surrender the keys.

2. Breach of lease: Leaving the apartment one month early may be considered a breach of the lease agreement. However, since the tenant provided adequate notice and paid the rent for the remaining lease term, the breach may not be significant enough to warrant legal action.

3. Changing locks: You should not change the locks until the lease has officially ended and the tenant has returned the keys. Changing the locks prematurely could be considered an illegal eviction.

4. Showing the apartment: Even though the tenant is not currently living in the apartment, it is still considered their possession until the lease ends. As a courtesy, you should inform the tenant of any planned showings and give them reasonable notice, as they may want to ensure their remaining belongings are secure.

5. Repairs: You can conduct repairs with the tenant's permission. If the repairs are urgent or necessary to maintain the property's habitability, you may be able to enter the apartment to complete them. However, it is always best to communicate with the tenant and obtain their consent before entering the apartment.

To avoid potential disputes, it is advisable to communicate with the tenant regarding their intentions for the remaining lease term, the return of the keys, and any other concerns you may have. If you are unsure about your rights and obligations as a landlord in New Jersey, consult with a local attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law for more specific guidance.

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