Will I have to move?
Maybe not. In New Jersey, the sale of a property alone is not a ground for eviction. However, if the building has three residential units or fewer, and the buyer wishes to live in your unit, you may be at risk of eviction. The contract for sale between your landlord and the buyer must require that your unit be vacant at the time of closing (the last step in the sale process when the deed is transferred). In addition, the landlord has to give you at least two full calendar months’ notice before filing an eviction complaint with the court. The notice cannot be effective before your lease term ends, and an eviction complaint cannot be filed until that time.
Example: The tenant rents a single- family home and the property has been listed for sale. The tenant has a lease agreement that ends December 31.
On August 8, the landlord sends the tenant a letter, which states that the tenancy is terminated on November 30 because the property is being sold to a buyer who wishes to move into the home. It also states that the contract for sale requires that the home must be vacant at the time of closing.
Can the landlord legally file an eviction complaint based upon the August 8 notice in December?
No. The notice should be effective December 31, the end of the lease term. The earliest the landlord can file for eviction is in January.
A landlord must go through the court process to remove a tenant and prove one of the grounds for eviction in court. Even if your landlord is selling the property, you still have to pay your rent. Otherwise, the landlord could immediately file an eviction complaint based upon nonpayment of rent.
The landlord is not renewing my lease because the property is being sold. Do I have to move?
In most cases, no. The ending of a lease is not grounds for eviction. The same lease terms continue on a month-to-month basis.
However, if the landlord lives on the premises, and there are one or two residential rental units, the end of tenant’s term could be grounds for eviction. This is often referred to as the “owner-occupied” exception. The landlord would have to provide a prior written notice terminating the tenancy before filing an eviction complaint. The notice period depends upon the term of the tenancy. If the tenancy is month-to-month, then at least a full calendar month’s notice terminating the tenancy is required.
Do I have to let inspectors, realtors, or potential buyers in while I am still living there?
In general, the landlord, or those acting on behalf of the landlord, are entitled to enter upon reasonable prior notice. If you live in a building that has three or more dwelling units, that usually means one day.
It is important to review your last written lease terms, and the terms of any written rules. If there are any paragraphs about the landlord, or someone who works for the landlord, accessing the unit, you could be at risk of eviction if you deny access. The landlord would have to send a warning notice first, and if there is an alleged breach after that, the landlord would have to send a one-month notice terminating the tenancy before filing an eviction complaint.
Does the new owner have to honor my lease agreement?
When an owner sells the property directly to someone else, the new owner takes the property subject to the current lease terms. Remember, if your lease expired years ago, those same terms carry over on a month-to-month basis.
The new owner may, after a lease term ends, propose a new lease or rent increase. If that happens, you should seek legal advice. There are rules and procedures that the landlord must follow. Learn more about rent increases in chapter 7 of our Tenants’ Rights in New Jersey manual.
An owner may later decide to move into your unit. If the building has three residential units or fewer, that could also be grounds for eviction. The owner must serve the tenant with a two-calendar-month notice in order to terminate the tenancy. The notice can only be effective after the end of the lease term.
What happens with my security deposit after the landlord sells the property?
If you are still living there, the new owner is responsible to you for the deposit, even if the new owner did not get it from the prior owner. Learn more about security deposits in chapter 3 of our Tenants’ Rights in New Jersey manual.
My landlord filed for eviction. Could I be locked out?
The landlord would have to get a judgment, and go through the warrant for removal process. For an explanation about the court process, including what happens after the eviction hearing, see chapter 8 and chapter 11 of our Tenants’ Rights in New Jersey manual. Because you may have defenses to raise at trial, you should still seek legal assistance.
I moved (or was evicted) because the buyer or owner was going to move in, but never did. What are my rights?
If the buyer or owner, as the case may be, did not live there for at least six months, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. You may be able to get triple the costs you incurred as well as attorney’s fees and costs of suit. Keep copies of all of your notices, court papers, and any receipts associated with your move (such as moving truck, storage unit, etc.). Seek legal advice.
This information last reviewed: Apr 19, 2023