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Kessel v. Red Bank Manor, Ltd.

A-1644-02T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD-TENANT; ANTI-EVICTION ACT—When a homeowner leases a garage to park cars, the homeowner is not protected by the Anti-Eviction Act.

A buyer acquired a residential condominium unit from a developer. The unit did not contain a garage. He also entered into a lease with the developer “for an unused garage located in a separate detached building in the complex for the parking of its car and storage.” After the two year lease term for the garage ended, the owner remained as a holdover tenant. The developer served a notice to vacate because it intended to sell the garage with one of his last condominium units at the complex. The unit owner failed to vacate the garage and the developer filed a summary disposes action. The unit owner challenged that the notice was defective under the Anti-Eviction Act, but the lower court “held that since [the unit owner] owned the home and merely rented the garage from [the developer], the garage was not an accessory residential use entitled to the protection of the [Act].” The unit owner moved for reconsideration and filed an appeal. A warrant of removal was issued and the unit owner then filed an action seeking damages for wrongful eviction. The lower court, in that action, agreed that the landlord-tenant judge was correct in determining that the Act did not apply. The Appellate Division agreed, holding that there was “no basis in law or public policy to extend the [Act] to the facts of this case.” The purpose of the Act is to address the critical shortage of affordable housing. Just because the unit owner owned a dwelling unit in the complex did not entitle him to notice under the Act with respect to a separate rental of the garage for his car and storage. He bought a condominium unit without a garage. “The lease of the garage for a limited period [was] independent of his residence.” Further, his inability to use the garage did “not result in the lack of affordable housing; it simply [meant] he [would] have to park his vehicle elsewhere.”

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