Yes, but in some circumstances, you may have to pay another deposit. Please read “Security Deposit: What It Is and What a Landlord Must Do with It While You Live in the Property” at https://www.lsnjlaw.org/Housing/Landlord-Tenant/Security-Deposits/Pages/Obligations-Limits-Collections.aspx. If you fit the requirements for applying your deposit to the rent, you can apply your deposit pursuant to the Rent Security Deposit Act, N.J.S.A. 46:8-19, et seq., and you do not have an obligation to replenish the deposit. You can use the sample letters included in that article.
Executive Order 128 available online at https://www.nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-128.pdf, allows tenants to apply their security deposits plus accrued interest to rent, even if the landlord provided notice pursuant to the Rent Security Deposit Act. Accrued interest is the interest it earns in a bank account. The Order applies to security deposits that are covered by the Rent Security Deposit Act N.J.S.A. 46:8-19 et seq. That statute does not automatically include security deposits paid by tenants in owner occupied dwellings, which consist of the owner plus one or two residential units (See section “Does the Act apply to all landlords?” in the article “Your Security Deposit” from our June 2019 newsletter, Looking Out For Your Legal Rights.
The tenant would have to make a request. We recommend that it be in writing, by letter or email, and that you keep a hard copy. The letter should include the following:
- I am applying my security deposit of $ ____________ plus accrued interest of $___________to rent pursuant to Executive Order 128 signed by Governor Murphy on April 24, 2020;
- A copy of the Order may be found online at https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-128.pdf or by going to nj.gov/governor >> News and Events >> Executive Orders >> 128 Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Providing Critical Short-Term Support for Renters 2020/04/24;
- You can also print and enclose a copy of the Order
The Order states that if the tenant and landlord extend or renew the lease, then the tenant has to replenish the security deposit six months following the end of the Public Health Emergency or on the date on which the current lease is extended or renewed, whichever is later. Tenants with concerns or questions as to how a landlord may enforce this, and the likelihood of success, should seek legal advice.
(Return to Frequently Asked Questions for Tenants, Hotel/Motel Residents, and Other Occupants During COVID-19)