By Christopher J. Hanlon, a NJ Landlord/Tenant Attorney
When you sign a lease as a tenant in New Jersey, you become a party to a contract. As a party to a contract, you have certain rights that will be upheld by the Courts in New Jersey. Courts will generally uphold the lease that both parties agreed to when they signed it. However, disputes sometimes arise as to what exactly was agreed to in the lease. When these disputes occur, Courts will decipher the plain language of the agreement and the intentions of the parties the best they can, ruling in favor of whatever party they believe is correct in their interpretation of the agreement.
One of these disputes arose in a recent New Jersey Appellate Court case. The Landlord brought a claim against a tenant immediately after the lease expired, since the tenant failed to restore the 20-year old HVAC units at the end of the term. The landlord claimed this was agreed to in the lease and cited a provision in which the tenant agreed to restore the premises to its original condition. The tenant argued that the premises are subject to reasonable wear and tear and the tenant is not responsible for such, something which the landlord concedes. The tenant thus argues that the use of the HVAC units was part of this reasonable wear and tear and therefore they were not responsible.
The Court agreed with the tenant, stating that the most reasonable interpretation of the contract led them to conclude that the provision in which the tenant promised to restore the property to its original condition applied only to alterations the tenant made during the term of the lease. The Court found that use of the HVAC units was considered normal wear and tear, thus not included in the restoration provision of the lease. This meant the tenant was not responsible.
The New Jersey Courts provide a forum for upholding agreements between parties. When presented with a dispute as to the language of an agreement, they will look at the language of the contract and the intentions of the parties, often coming up with the most reasonable interpretation of the disputed language. If you have a question regarding a dispute with your landlord or tenant, please call Christopher J. Hanlon, Esq., an experienced Landlord/Tenant Attorney in New Jersey. He can be reached toll-free at 888-800-7442 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org/. He would be happy to assist you in your matter. For further information, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/NJBusinessLaw#p/search/0/GGPeM8HxHHE to learn more.