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How to Research Landlord-Tenant Law

​You may want to read a law that is discussed in this section to better understand the law or to prepare your case for court. If you need to read a law, there are several places you can go to find law books. You can also read about the law on the web. 

Check your local public library first. You may find everything you need right there. Some colleges and county courthouses have law libraries. The State Library and the two New Jersey law schools have extensive law libraries that are open to the public.

Getting the assistance of a librarian

Librarians are very helpful in pointing out where the books and statutes are located. They will also help if you are having difficulty finding the statutes and cases for which you are looking.

The State Library is located at:

185 West State Street
P.O. Box 520
Trenton, NJ 08625-0520
Library phone: (609) 278-2640

Rutgers Law School—Newark is located at:

123 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Library phone: (973) 353-5675

Rutgers Law School—Camden is located at:

217 North Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08102
Library phone: (856) 225-6172

Finding landlord-tenant laws

This section uses the word Cite: followed by numbers, letters, and names to refer to laws. A cite tells you the book in which the law is located. You can then read the law yourself by finding the cited book.

Landlord-tenant laws are made in several ways in New Jersey. Proposed laws, or bills, when passed by the State Legislature and signed by the governor, become laws and are called statutes. Some statutes require state government agencies to adopt laws called regulations. Laws are also made by judges when they decide court cases involving landlords and tenants.

Statutes are printed in a set of green books called New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A.). These books are numbered and have “titles.” There are many “chapters” in each book, and many “articles” in each chapter. A cite to one of these laws is: N.J.S.A. 2A:18-53 (N.J.S.A. title 2A, chapter 18, article 53).

Tenant laws are in several N.J.S.A. books. To find out which N.J.S.A. book and chapter has the law you want, first look in the N.J.S.A. index. The N.J.S.A. general index for letters G-M lists various tenant laws under the heading “Landlord and Tenant.” This list gives the cites or book numbers where you can find the law you want.See the Rutgers Shool of Law - Newark's Statutes page to also find landlord-tenant laws.

Finding new or recent laws

New or recent landlord-tenant laws may be in the “pocket parts” of the N.J.S.A. book. The pocket parts are found at the back of each book. Even if the law you want is in the regular N.J.S.A. book, you should always check the pocket part to see if any changes to the law have been made. The pocket parts are updated every year.

Finding regulations. Some landlord-tenant laws require the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to issue regulations for carrying out the law. DCA and other state agency regulations are located in a set of dark blue binders known as the New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.). You can also find regulations at ​Public Access to Administrative Code and NJ Register (from the State of New Jersey Office of Administrative Law).

Finding case law

Landlord-tenant law is also made by judges when they decide court cases involving disputes between landlords and tenants. This law, or case law, is located in two sets of books called case reporters. Reporters contain court decisions that explain why the judge decided for or against a tenant. Decisions by courts where landlord-tenant disputes are first heard (trial courts) and decisions by the appellate court are located in a set of light green books called New Jersey Superior Court Reports (N.J. Super.). Decisions by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, the highest state court, are located in the cream-colored books called New Jersey Reports (N.J.) A cite to a decision in either reporter starts with the names of the people or companies who were in court against each other. After the names, the number of the book where you can find the court decision is listed.

For example, Marini v. Ireland, 56 N.J. 130 (1970), refers to a Supreme Court decision where the landlord—Marini—sued his tenant—Ireland. The decision is found in the 56th volume of New Jersey Reports, starting at page 130. The year of the decision is 1970. The cite to trial or appellate court decisions in the New Jersey Superior Court Reports is N.J. Super. An example of a Superior Court cite is Drew v. Pullen, 172 N.J. Super. 570 (App. Div. 1980). You can also find cases at Google Scholar by clicking on the Case law button and entering the code in the search box. 

Finding local laws

Landlord-tenant laws are also made by city, borough, or township governments, such as rent control laws and standards for maintaining rental property, or property maintenance laws. Laws made by local governing bodies are called ordinances. For example, the New Brunswick rent control law is located in a book called Ordinances of the City of New Brunswick. To find out if your city or township has passed a landlord-tenant law, you can call your city or township hall. Your local public library and the law libraries mentioned above also may have copies of the ordinances.

Federal law

Federal laws and federal court decisions affect New Jersey tenants who live in public housing or other federally subsidized housing. Federal law applies to tenants receiving rental assistance under the federal program known as Section 8. Federal law also prohibits certain types of discrimination in the rental of housing.

This manual includes cites to federal statutes and court decisions. These cites allow you to find federal statutes, regulations, and court decisions at the law library. You can also find federal cases at Google Scholar by entering the cite in the search box and clicking on the Case law button.

 
1/22/2016