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Morreale v. Mints

A-2275-02T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2004) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD-TENANT; EVICTION—Once a court determines that a house is owner occupied and has no more than two rental units, the eviction of the house’s tenants is governed by the Summary Dispossess Act and not by the Anti-Eviction Act.

A homeowner rented a room in her house to a tenant on a month-to-month basis. After seven years and after deterioration of the relationship, the owner gave the tenant a notice to cease, followed by a notice to quit and a demand for possession. The tenant did not leave and became a holdover tenant. The owner then brought an eviction action. After a temporary hardship stay, and a denial by the lower court of an extension for the tenant, the tenant was evicted.

The lower court held the premises to be owner-occupied with no more than two rental units. Therefore, the controlling law was the Summary Dispossess Act, and not the Anti-Eviction Act. Based on the Summary Dispossess Act, the evidence showed that the notices given to the tenant prior to the trial were timely and legally sufficient. Furthermore, the lower court found that the tenant had been a disorderly tenant and the evidence amply supported that finding. The Appellate Division refused to revisit this credibility determination made by the lower court. It also agreed that the tenant was a holdover tenant and subject to eviction on that ground.

On appeal, the tenant also argued that the lower court abused its discretion when it failed to grant a second hardship stay. The Court found this claim to be without merit. Furthermore, it was moot. The Court also held that the lower court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that the tenant neither made reasonable efforts to relocate nor demonstrated the unavailability of other dwelling accommodations.

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