Termination of a Lease Based on Severe Illness

Can You Terminate a Lease Based on Severe Illness?

The legislature has recognized that tenants in your property, which is regulated by various legislative schemes, have the right to terminate a lease early in the event of a serious illness. N.J.S.A. 46:8-9.2. If the lessee suffers a disabling illness, or if the lessee is 62 years of age or older and is accepted into an assisted living facility, nursing home, continuing care retirement community or the lessee (or spouse), one of whom is 62 years of age or older, is accepted into housing reserved for occupancy by low or moderate income households, or the dwelling you provided is not handicapped accessible by the lessee or a member of the lessee’s household who suffers from a disabling illness or accident, then they can give you a notice to terminate the lease early. The notice must be in writing. It will be effective on the fortieth day following receipt by you. (This implies the rent will be pro-rated). The property must be vacated and possession turned over to you at least five (5) working days prior to the fortieth day following your receipt of the written notice.

Depending upon the justification for the termination, other written proofs must also be submitted. In the case of a tenant or spouse who is suffering from a disabling illness, they must attach to the notice a certification of a treating physician confirming the tenant cannot engage in gainful employment, proof of loss of income, and proof that any pension, insurance or other subsidies they receive are insufficient to supplement the income to allow them to pay the rent.

In case of a tenant or spouse being admitted into an assisted living facility, etc. they must supply you with a certification of a treating physician that they need services provided by the assisted living facility or nursing home, etc. and documentation that they have been accepted into same.

If the justification is based upon handicapped status, they must provide a certification from a licensed physician confirming the handicap and that it is not going to be temporary and that they have asked you to make the dwelling unit accessible and you were unable or unwilling to do so. They must meet the definition of “handicapped” set forth in the Motor Vehicle regulations. This is an actual physical disability, not a more broadly defined “handicap” which might include psychiatric facilities.  For any of these notices to justify application of the statute which allow the tenant to terminate his obligation under the lease, “…the rent shall be paid up to the time of termination…”. If you have any further questions concerning this statutory scheme, please advise.

If you would like to schedule and appointment to discuss you landlord matter, please contact Christopher J. Hanlon, Esq. at chanlon@hnlawfirm.com or Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com. They can also be reached toll-free at (855) 376-5291