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2677 Investments, L.P. v. Simonetti

A-1016-03T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2004) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD-TENANT; EVICTION; SUPERINTENDENTS—The Anti-Eviction Act was intended to protect tenants at the time it was enacted in 1974 and a tenant who had become the building superintendent before them is not protected from eviction under the Act.

In 1969, a tenant moved into a basement apartment. After the first month, the tenant became the superintendent of the building and remained at that position for thirty-four years. Under his arrangement with the landlord, the tenant was given free rent plus extra monthly pay. The tenant testified that there were no discussions about him becoming the superintendent prior to moving into the building. He had moved into the basement apartment because it was affordable. After the apartment building was purchased by a new owner, the superintendent was fired and served with a written notice terminating his tenancy. The notice stated that the superintendent’s occupancy of the apartment was conditioned upon his employment. Therefore, because he had been fired, he was required to leave the apartment.

The lower court held that the new owner was precluded from evicting the superintendent because he was a tenant before becoming the superintendent. On appeal, the Appellate Division pointed out that the superintendent’s one-month tenancy in 1969 pre-existed the enactment of the Anti-Eviction Act in 1974. Furthermore, the Act was intended to protect tenants who were tenants on its effective date. Thus, the Court concluded that the superintendent was not entitled to the Act’s protections because he was not a tenant at the time the Act was enacted. For that reason, the Court reversed the lower court’s decision and remanded the matter for entry of judgment of possession in favor of the owner.

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