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Sub-Letting My Apartment (part 1 – legalities)

In years past, when I’ve taken trips of similar length, I’ve either left my apartment vacant or participated in a home exchange through one of the online services that facilitate them. The home exchanges have been great and satisfying and have expanded the range of friends around the world – but this time I’ve decided to sublet for the 6 weeks I will be traveling.

There’s an important legal issue involved. My lease specifies that I may not have guests (not defined – is a family member a guest under the rule? – but no matter) for more than 2 weeks.

Violation of the rule can result in a suit for eviction by the landlord. I think mine would love the opportunity because I’ve been a tenant’s rights advocate who has caused the landlord a great deal of unfavorable publicity on the front page of the local newspaper. I founded a resident’s association that forced him to comply with NJ law that requires a resident building superintendent. We forced the installation of security cameras, compliance with city health and safety codes and, in general, made him a better landlord against his greedy little will.

So, how can I do this, without inviting eviction?

The law in NJ has rules before a tenant can be evicted for violation of the lease. Notice of a violation must be made in writing to the tenant and the tenant given 30 days to cure the violation.

If the violation is not cured by the end of 30 days, then the landlord may file suit for eviction. If the violation is cured within the 30 days, the landlord may not file a lawsuit.

Doing the math, I can sublet for 6 weeks because the landlord can’t send a notice of violation until after he has evidence of a violation in the form of a guest staying longer than two weeks. Getting that evidence is going to be daunting. Then, after filing notice on me of the violation, that person must leave within the next 30 days. As long as that is done, I’m not vulnerable.

Craig’s List here I come!

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