In New Jersey, landlords are forbidden from denying tenants solely because they are recipients of housing vouchers or other government assistance programs. To deny a tenant, a landlord must have a legally valid basis for the denial aside from their source of income.
Illegal Voucher Policy
Because it’s illegal under New Jersey law to deny a tenant because their income (or a portion of their income) comes from government assistance, landlords should avoid implementing any “No Voucher”, “No Section 8”, or “No LIHTC” policies. This may also cover tenants on welfare or social security. Aside from denying an application, landlords cannot charge voucher holders more, segregate them to a different section of a building than non-voucher holders, or provide them with different services or amenities from non-Section 8 tenants. Landlords are free to deny tenants for other reasons that don’t violate discrimination laws, such as being a direct threat to another tenant in the building. N.J. Admin. Code 13:13-3.4 , N.J. Admin. Code 13:13-3.5 , N.J. Stat. 10:5-12 .
Valid Reasons for Denying Applicant
Landlords are allowed to deny a tenant for reasons other than their source of income, so long as it doesn’t violate New Jersey’s or the federal government’s discrimination laws. This state protects tenants from discrimination based on their:
- Familial status
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Marital status
- Source of income
Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes
New Jersey has an exception called the “Murphy Rule”, which is intended to allow landlords to rent out extra rooms in their home without a large compliance burden. If the apartment is in the landlord’s own residence, then the landlord is free to discriminate regarding whom they rent to. This exception only applies to smaller homes, specifically where the house or building has four or fewer apartment units.
This exemption does not typically apply to advertising (e.g., “Only accepting white tenants”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager or other real estate professional. Some states may have additional see restrictions. See state law for more details.
What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of New Jersey or a local government? They may ask the tenant for information to help bring the case, including any evidence (e.g., emails and pictures). If the government finds there’s sufficient information between the tenant’s complaint (as well as complaints from other tenants), the landlord may be charged and taken to court to defend themselves. Landlords will likely receive fines if they lose. The amount of the fines will be determined in part by the severity of the issue. Fines increase significantly for repeat offenders. N.J. Stat. Sec. 10:5-14.1a . N.J. Stat. Sec. 10:5-14.1a .
State and Local Laws
Laws differ heavily by state, county, and city. Use RenterPeace to see more specific laws for to a given apartment and to see comments from people in your area.
Documenting the Problem
For most problems, tenants should document their issues, notify their landlord (document this too!), and stay informed about their rights. Renterpeace is a free website that helps with each step of this process. Tenants use RenterPeace to more easily see applicable laws, track their problems, and much more. There's a reason RenterPeace was selected "Best of" legal apps for both Android and iOS. It also includes household management tools, like a chore manager and bill tracker. Try it - you don't even to login first.
Using Property Management
To stay updated and organized about the problems in their apartments, landlords should use a property management system. Many are expensive or have high setup fees, but using RenterPeace for landlords is free. It's complete with legal compliance tips targeted to their problems, maintenance tracking, tenant screening, money-saving grant information, and tenant chat. It makes managing properties easier and staying updated about status of rental properties a breeze. Try it today.