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Amirata v. Pine

A-2157-10T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2011) (Unpublished)

LEASES; TERMINATION — Where a lease is on a month-to-month basis, the common law rule is that a notice of intent to vacate is given during the same month in which the tenant is to leave, it will be effective as of the end of the month following that month in which the short notice is given.

A tenant sued its landlord under the Rent Security Deposit Act alleging wrongful failure to return his security deposit. The landlord counterclaimed that the tenant had removed and damaged various items in the house, including a custom made rug. The landlord also asserted that the tenant failed to pay the last month’s rent. On January 30, 2010, the tenant allegedly sent notice that it would vacate the premises on February 28, 2010. The tenant did not pay rent for March.

The lower court rejected the landlord’s claim for the rug because the landlord did not present sufficient evidence of its value. The lower court also rejected the landlord’s claim that the tenant did not pay the rent, on the ground that the tenant had given proper notice of his intent to vacate the premises. Based on the rulings, the lower court entered a final judgment for the tenant’s security deposit, less the miscellaneous damages, and doubled the balance.

The landlord appealed, arguing that the lower court erred in excluding its proffered evidence regarding the value of a replacement rug. The Appellate Division agreed with the lower court that the landlord had failed to present any evidence regarding the similarities between the rug taken and replacement rug, or any evidence of cost, date of purchase, or condition of the alleged missing rug. However, the Court found that the lower court erred in finding that the tenant had given timely notice of his intent to vacate. The common law rule is that if notice of intent to vacate is given during the same month in which the quit is to take place, it will be effective as of the end of the month following the month in which the short notice is given. The tenant allegedly sent a letter on January 30, 2010 and the earliest date the landlord could have received this letter was February 1, 2010. Therefore the landlord was entitled to the rent for March, 2010.


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