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Buccarelli v. Pellecchia

A-5166-02T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2004) (Unpublished)

LEASES; RENEWAL—A renewal provision in a residential lease that, consistent with the Anti-Eviction Act, requires the landlord to offer its tenant a renewal lease but only if there are no grounds for eviction, permits the landlord to deny a renewal if the landlord has contracted to sell the leased property to someone who intends to personally occupy the leased property.

A house lease contained the following provision: “The Landlord must offer the Tenant a renewal lease to take effect at the end of the Term unless ... (b) the Landlord has good cause as defined by law. The renewal lease may contain reasonable changes including any change in the Term. If so, the Landlord must notify the Tenant of the changes not less than 120 days before the Term ends unless the Tenancy is month to month.” Here, the Landlord served a notice to quit on the tenant based on the sale of the house to a buyer that intended to occupy the house. Two notices to quit were sent, with the latter being sent more than two months before the lease’s termination date. The tenant argued that because its lease contained a renewal provision requiring “120 days’ notice to the tenant if the terms of the lease were to be changed in a subsequent year, with a ninety-day period to accept or reject the changes, the lease automatically renewed 120 days prior to the termination of the initial one-year lease.”

The Appellate Division disagreed, finding “no ambiguity in the lease’s exception to the automatic renewal provision ... and that the sale of the property for owner occupancy constitutes good cause for a voidance of the lease renewal provision.” Further, the Court found the notice to quit satisfied the “two months’ notice” requirement under the Anti-Eviction Act. Because the lease expired on April 14, it was perfectly proper for the landlord to file its complaint for removal on April 15.

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