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Marino v. Mueller

A-816-02T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD-TENANT; EVICTION—Where it is clear that the buyer of a living unit intended to have it personally occupied by a family member, it isn’t necessary to send a second notice to quit when the family member is added to the deed after the property is originally acquired in the name of an entity and an otherwise proper notice was sent in the first place.

A person purchased a condominium unit intending to have his mother live in it. The owner served a notice to quit on the tenant occupying the unit, advising her that the tenancy was being terminated because the unit was to be owner-occupied. When the tenant refused to leave, the owner filed an eviction action. The landlord-tenant court refused to evict the tenant based on the fact that the mother was not considered an owner of the unit. The new owner then conveyed a 99% percent interest in the unit to himself and his wife and a 1% interest to his mother, all as tenants in common. Another hearing was held, where the landlord-tenant court granted the owner possession. The tenant then filed a lawsuit in Superior Court alleging that the conveyance by the owner of a 1% ownership interest to his mother was a fraudulent transfer for the sole purpose of evading the statutory protections of the Anti-Eviction Act. The lower court granted the owner’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint and the tenant appealed. The Appellate Division affirmed, finding no fraud or improper intent by the owner in conveying a 1% interest to his mother. The Court noted that the owner’s intent in buying the unit in the first place was to find his mother a place to live. There was no intention to subvert the purpose of the Anti-Eviction Act. The Court also rejected the tenant’s claim that she was entitled to additional notice, above and beyond the notice she originally received when the owner purchased the unit. She claimed that she was entitled to an additional sixty days notice when the new owner conveyed the 1% interest to his mother. In affirming the lower court’s decision, the Appellate Division agreed that the tenant received ample notice that the tenancy was being terminated because the owner (whether it was the owner or his mother) intended to occupy the unit.

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