Skip to main content

Kuzuri Kijiji, Inc. v. Bryan

371 N.J. Super. 263, 852 A.2d 1136 (App. Div. 2004)

LANDLORD-TENANT; LEASES; EVICTION—To evict a tenant, it is not necessary for the lease to contain the statutorily specified words, “right of re-entry,” if the lease uses functionally equivalent language.

A landlord’s apartment building was considered a multi-family housing project. It was partially subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and, therefore was subject to HUD rules. One such rule requires landlords to choose among three model leases. The landlord served one of its tenants with a notice to cease based on five violations of the lease agreement which prohibited keeping a dog without the landlord’s permission. When the tenant refused to get rid of the dog, the landlord commenced an action for summary eviction, alleging material non-compliance with the lease’s terms. The tenant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the landlord had not reserved a right of re-entry in the lease. The lower court held that a tenant could not be evicted for a substantial breach of the lease without an explicit right of re-entry in the lease. On appeal, the landlord conceded that the HUD lease chosen by it did not contain the statutorily specified words “right of re-entry” but argued that the terms of the lease used functionally equivalent language.

The Appellate Division concluded that words other than “right of re-entry” satisfy New Jersey law as long as the words employed clearly convey that violation of the lease allows the landlord to seek termination of the lease, removal of the tenant from the leased premises, and a return of possession of the premises to the landlord.

A notice to cease must explicitly advise the tenant that an activity is offensive, and give the tenant a reasonable opportunity to cure the offending behavior. This tenant’s lease provided that the landlord could terminate the agreement for the tenant’s material non-compliance with the terms of the lease, and allowed the landlord to seek to terminate the lease for cause. It also provided that the tenant had to leave the apartment if the landlord demonstrated good cause. Although the lease didn’t use the words “right of re-entry,” the Court held that it set forth, in understandable terms, the essence of the landlord’s right of re-entry. Therefore, the Court reversed the lower court’s decision and held that the landlord was entitled to seek the tenant’s eviction.

66 Park Street • Montclair, New Jersey 07042
tel: 973-783-3000 • fax: 973-744-5757 •