In an interesting unpublished Law Division case, tenants argued that a landlord violated the City of Newark's rent control ordinance because it was trying to evict them for failure to pay "additional rents" (such as late fees and legal fees for collection of past-due rents) which would increase the total rent above the cap set forth in the ordinance. The Judge agreed with the tenant’s argument that the landlord could not insist on the additional rent as part of a summary dispossess (eviction) action, which is an important factor in this case as the only remedy sought in the case was to evict the tenants for failure to pay rents. The Court wrote that its holding only applies in a summary dispossess action and that the landlord could file suit pursuant to contract law in the law division seeking a monetary remedy. The unpublished nature of this decision means that it is not binding upon other courts, but it will be interesting to see if the Court's clarifying dicta holds up in an action to recover the additional rent because if the lease violates the law per the rent control ordinance, then it would follow that the portion of the contract that is in violation of the law would be unenforceable. (Opex Realty Management LLC v. Taylor
Peter J. Vazquez, Jr.