You Are Entitled to Compensation If You Reside In An Illegal Apartment
I was contacted by a client for representation in a drunk driving case, where he was issued almost ten traffic charges. He was humble, in his early 20s, and had a child on the way. He was having a boy. When he consulted with me, he advised me that he wanted me to represent him in Municipal Court, but he wanted to plead guilty to all of the charges because he believed that he deserved the punishment. He told me that when his son grew up, he wanted to teach him that you must take responsibility for your actions and that there are consequences when you break the law. While I respected his thought process, as an attorney, I could not let him make that decision without reviewing all of the evidence and assessing all of his options. In the end, I was able to convince him not to plead guilty to all of the charges. After reviewing the case, we discovered that he had certain defenses and we were able to obtain a result that was way better than he had expected, while allowing him to take reasonable responsibility for his actions.
A few months later, my client contacted me to rave about being a father and to thank me for giving him a better opportunity to provide for his family. He advised me that he was getting an apartment for the mother of his child, his child and himself so that he could start a life for his family.
My client did get his apartment. He furnished it and made it a home for his family. However, just before his son turned one, there was a large fire in the building. While my client’s girlfriend and child made it out of the apartment, my client did not. It was something that tore me apart. An investigation revealed that my client’s apartment was illegal.
Had my client’s landlord not offered an illegal basement for rent or had my client’s landlord performed the work necessary to make the apartment comply with the town’s codes, my client would likely be alive today.
The state of New Jersey as well as New Jersey’s cities, towns, townships, boroughs, and villages have created rules and regulations when it comes to the design, construction and use of property. These laws are designed to protect the health, life and safety of those who occupy the property. For example, there must be a certain number of exits within a property and windows must be a certain height in order to secure a tenant’s safety in the event of a fire or other danger. Converting a basement, attic or garage to living space without proper approvals is not only against the law, but it puts anyone living in the illegal space in severe danger.
New Jersey landlords who convert basements, attics, garages or other spaces to apartments for rent without getting proper approvals are violating the law. In addition, NJ landlords who rent out rooms to different people without getting proper approvals to run a rooming house are violating the law. In any of these instances, if these illegal tenancies are discovered, it is important that tenants be relocated to protect their health, life and safety, If an apartment is illegal, New Jersey landlords may not only be responsible to the state or municipality for heavy fines and even jail time, but these landlords may be responsible to compensate tenants who are forced to relocate because of the landlords’ violation of the law.
If you are renting an apartment that is in a basement, an attic or a garage, it is likely an illegal apartment. In addition, if you are renting a room in a house or apartment and there are other individuals living in the house or apartment that are not a part of your lease, your rental is likely illegal. If you find yourself in any of these situations, please contact The Cintron Firm. We will advise you of your rights and fight to obtain proper compensation if you are forced to relocate to ensure your safety.