New Jersey Rent Control Laws in 2024

Introduction to New Jersey's Rent Control Laws

Rent control laws exist in some New Jersey cities and counties to regulate how much landlords can increase rents each year. These ordinances are designed to protect tenants from excessive rent hikes and promote affordability. 

Rent control laws typically limit annual rent increases to a percentage set by a rent control board. Landlords must follow proper procedures for notifying tenants of increases and implementing them. There are exemptions for certain types of rental properties.

This guide provides an overview of rent control regulations in New Jersey that landlords and tenants should understand. It covers the locations with rent control, allowable rent increases, notice requirements, exemptions, and processes for challenging increases. 

The purpose of this guide is to help both landlords and tenants understand their rights and responsibilities under New Jersey's rent control laws. Rent control can be complex, but knowledge of the key provisions is important for housing providers and renters alike.

Rent Control Ordinances in New Jersey 

Several cities and counties in New Jersey have enacted local rent control ordinances to regulate allowable rent increases. These ordinances apply to certain covered rental units and provide important protections for tenants.

The following localities currently have rent control laws in effect:

Jersey City

Covers residential buildings with 3 or more units constructed before 1987. Allows annual increases up to 4% or the cost of living adjustment (COLA), whichever is greater. Additional increases allowed for capital improvements and hardship.


Applies to residential buildings with 3 or more units. Annual increases capped at 4% or the COLA. Landlords can apply for additional increases. 


Covers residential buildings with 3 or more units. Annual rent hikes limited to 4% or the COLA. Capital improvement and hardship increases permitted.

East Orange

Includes residential buildings with 3 or more units constructed before 1986. Limits annual increases to the lower of 4% or the COLA.


Applies to residential buildings with 4 or more units built before 1984. Annual increases capped at 4% or the COLA.


Covers residential buildings with 4 or more units constructed prior to 1978. Allows rent hikes up to 4% annually.


Applies to residential buildings with 4 or more units. Limits annual rent increases to 4% or the COLA.

Generally, rent control ordinances in New Jersey apply to residential buildings and multi-family apartments with 3 or more units. Single-family homes and smaller buildings are usually exempt. The laws regulate the amount landlords can increase rents each year, often limiting increases to around 4% annually.

Annual Rent Increase Limits 

In areas of New Jersey with rent control laws, there are limits on how much a landlord can raise the rent each year. These annual rent increase caps are designed to protect tenants from excessive rent hikes.

The specific cap on rent increases varies by municipality. For example, in Jersey City, landlords are restricted to increasing rents by no more than 2.5% per year. In other cities like Hoboken, the annual increase is tied to the rate of inflation. 

Under most rent control laws, landlords can only raise rents once per year. The timing of when increases can take effect is also regulated. Many ordinances only allow rent hikes to happen on lease renewal or when a lease expires and the unit transitions to month-to-month.

There are certain circumstances where a landlord may be able to implement a rent increase above the annual cap. Reasons could include:

Major capital improvements

If a landlord makes upgrades like installing a new roof or renovating the building, they may be able to pass along some of these costs by raising rents more than the cap. This requires filing a petition and approval.

Hardship exemption

If a landlord is not able to maintain reasonable return on investment, they can file for a hardship exemption to raise rents beyond the cap. This requires proof of financial hardship.

To properly implement a rent increase up to the annual cap, landlords need to follow the required process:

Provide proper notice

Written notice must be given to tenants in advance of the increase (often 30-90 days).

Serve notice properly

Notice must be served in person, mailed by certified mail, or attached to the tenant's door. 

Include specific information

The notice must state the new rent amount, effective date, and percentage increase from the previous rent.

By understanding the regulations around annual rent increases, both landlords and tenants can ensure fair implementation of rent control laws. Following the proper procedures is key to avoiding disputes.

Notice Requirements for Rent Increases 

Landlords in New Jersey must provide proper advance notice before increasing rent on a tenant. The notice periods vary based on the location and type of rental unit:

  • For rent controlled units in cities with rent control ordinances, 60 days' written notice is required prior to a rent increase. The notice must state the current rent amount, proposed increased amount, and effective date.
  • For non-rent controlled apartments in New Jersey, 30 days' notice is required for a rent increase, if the lease term is month-to-month. For fixed term leases, notice would need to be given 30 days prior to the end of the lease term.
  • In public or subsidized housing with rent caps, such as Section 8, 30 days' written notice is typically required for any rent increase allowed under the program rules.

Notices of rent increases should be served properly to the tenant, either via certified mail, hand delivery with a witness signature, or any other traceable delivery method. Email or text message is generally not considered proper notice. The notice period starts on the date the tenant receives the notice, not the date it was mailed or posted. 

Landlords should retain copies of all notices served and proof of delivery in the event a dispute arises over proper notice being given. Tenants who do not receive proper advance notice of a rent increase or believe the landlord did not properly serve notice would have grounds to challenge the increase.

Challenging a Rent Increase

If a landlord in a rent-controlled area of New Jersey raises the rent by more than the legally allowed amount, tenants have the right to challenge the increase. There are a few options available to dispute an unlawful rent hike:

File a complaint with the rent control board

Most municipalities with rent control have a rent control board that oversees the regulation. Tenants can file a complaint with the board explaining that the landlord raised the rent excessively in violation of the ordinance. The board will then investigate the complaint and make a determination if the rent increase violates local law. If so, the board can order the landlord to rescind the unlawful increase.

Take the dispute to landlord-tenant court

Tenants can also challenge a rent hike by filing a complaint in landlord-tenant court. This involves initiating a lawsuit against the landlord explaining how the rent increase violates rent control limits. The court can order the landlord to roll back the rent and comply with the ordinance. If the landlord refuses, they may face fines or other penalties.

Contact a tenants rights organization

Non-profit tenants unions and housing justice organizations may be able to provide advice and assistance to tenants facing unlawful rent hikes. They can help tenants understand their rights, guide them through the dispute process, write complaint letters, and refer them to legal aid if necessary.

Consult a tenant lawyer

Tenants can also hire a lawyer that specializes in housing and landlord-tenant law to represent them in challenging the rent increase. The lawyer can use mediation or litigation to try to get the rent lowered to comply with rent control.

The key is for tenants to act promptly in disputing a rent increase that violates local ordinance limits. By taking action right away, tenants have the best chance of getting the rent hike reversed.

Excessive Rent Increases 

Landlords in New Jersey are not permitted to raise rents by an excessive or unconscionable amount, even if the property is not covered by rent control. State law prohibits rent gouging and unwarranted increases.

An excessive rent increase is usually defined as an increase that is grossly disproportionate to rents charged for similar properties in the same community. There is no set percentage that automatically qualifies as excessive. The increase must be evaluated based on comparable rents and the overall housing market conditions.

For example, if most landlords in a town are raising rents by 3-5% each year, but one landlord decides to double their rents, this could potentially be considered an unconscionable increase. The standard is that the increase must be reasonable and justified by market factors.

If a tenant believes their rent increase is excessive, they should first communicate with the landlord to understand the rationale and see if a compromise can be reached. If the landlord refuses to negotiate, the tenant can file a complaint with the municipal rent control board or housing agency, if one exists. 

The rent control board will investigate whether the increase violates rent control or anti-gouging ordinances. If the increase exceeds legal limits, the board can force the landlord to rescind all or part of the increase. The landlord may also face fines or other penalties for violating local laws.

If no local rent control board exists, the tenant can bring a case in civil court and ask a judge to invalidate the rent increase on the grounds that it is unconscionable and constitutes rent gouging. The judge has the power to order the landlord to roll back the increase and even impose monetary damages. Having documentation on comparable rent rates will help the tenant build a strong case.

Tenants faced with any rent increase they consider excessive should act promptly in challenging the hike, as paying the increased rent can be seen as implicitly accepting it. Seeking legal recourse quickly is key to protecting one's rights as a tenant.

Exemptions from Rent Control 

Not all rental properties in New Jersey are subject to rent control regulations. There are certain exemptions for specific types of buildings and units:

New Construction

Newly constructed buildings are exempt from rent control if they received their certificate of occupancy after the local rent control ordinance went into effect. This encourages developers to build new housing stock. Typically, the exemption lasts 30 years from the date of the certificate of occupancy.

Condominiums and Cooperatives  

Condominium and cooperative units are exempt from rent control laws. This allows owners to set market-rate rents and sell units at market prices without restriction.

Owner-Occupied Properties with 2-4 Units

Small owner-occupied apartment buildings with 2-4 units are exempt from rent control. The owner must live in one of the units as their primary residence. This allows mom-and-pop landlords to operate small investment properties without rent restrictions.

Single Family Homes, Townhouses, etc.

Standalone single family homes, duplexes, townhouses, and in some cases small apartment buildings (under 5 units) are exempt from rent control if the owner does not own more than a small number of rental units in the jurisdiction. This prevents rent control from applying to individually owned homes and small properties. 

Hotels, Motels, Dormitories 

Hotels, motels, dormitories, and other transient housing are exempt from rent control laws. This allows short-term accommodations to set market-based pricing.

To qualify for exemptions, landlords must properly register their properties and obtain the necessary documentation from local housing authorities. Exemptions can be removed if housing inspectors find violations or improper use of the units. Tenants should verify the exempt status of a unit before signing a lease.

Rent Control in Public Housing

Public and subsidized housing units in New Jersey are subject to additional rent control protections beyond what is provided at the local level. The state oversees and regulates rents for public housing authorities and other government-assisted housing programs.

Rent increases in public housing units are determined by the housing authority based on factors like operating costs and repairs. However, there are limits on how much rents can be raised each year, which is usually a small percentage tied to inflation. Tenants must receive at least 30 days advance written notice of any rent increase.

For tenants living in Section 8 or other subsidized units, the portion of rent they pay is capped at 30% of their household income. Rent increases cannot cause a tenant's share to exceed this percentage. If a landlord raises the rent above the allowable subsidized amount, the tenant can file an appeal and is protected from retaliation. 

Tenants in rent-controlled public housing have the right to receive a written lease, fair housing, and decent living conditions free of discrimination. They can also exercise the same rights as tenants in private housing, such as forming a tenants union, withholding rent for repairs, and contesting illegal rent hikes.

The key difference in public units is that tenants pay rent based on their income, not market rates. Rent control limits apply to the entire property, rather than an individual unit. This helps maintain affordable rents for low-income residents and prevents displacement.

Retaliation Protections for Tenants

Landlords are prohibited by law from retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights under rent control ordinances. Tenants are protected from eviction, rent increases, and other adverse actions if they:

  • File a complaint about the condition of the rental unit
  • Report a violation of the rent control ordinance 
  • Join or organize a tenants union
  • Testify against the landlord in court or administrative hearings

If a tenant believes the landlord is retaliating by raising the rent, initiating eviction proceedings, or taking other punitive actions within 6 months of the tenant exercising their rights, they can defend against the retaliation in court. The law creates a rebuttable presumption that the landlord's actions are retaliatory if taken within the 6 month window.

To defend against retaliation, the tenant should gather evidence showing they exercised rights like filing a complaint or joining a tenant organization. Dated photos, letters, and testimony from neighbors can help demonstrate the timeline of events. 

If the judge agrees retaliation has occurred, the landlord's actions will be void. For example, an eviction case or rent increase would be dismissed. The judge may also award damages to the tenant, such as court costs and attorney fees.

Tenants facing retaliation should contact local tenant advocacy organizations for assistance and review the anti-retaliation provisions in their municipal rent control ordinance. Acting quickly to assert retaliation protections is key to avoiding constructive eviction or being forced to pay rent increases.


What is the maximum rent increase allowed in New Jersey?

There is no statewide limit on rent increases in New Jersey. However, several cities and counties have local ordinances that limit how much landlords can raise rents each year. For example, in Newark and Jersey City, the annual rent increase is limited to 4% or the cost of living increase, whichever is lower. Tenants should check with their local municipality to see if there are any rent control laws that apply.

Can my landlord increase the rent without notice in New Jersey?

No. State law requires landlords provide written notice before raising rent. For monthly leases, at least 30 days notice is required. For longer leases, notice must be given at least 90 days before the lease expires. The notice must state the new rent amount and effective date.

What should I do if my landlord raises the rent illegally in New Jersey?

First, check to see if you live in an area with rent control laws limiting increases. If so, determine if the increase exceeds the legal limit. Notify your landlord in writing if you believe the increase violates local law. File a complaint with the rent control board or local housing agency that oversees rent regulations in your city or county. These agencies can investigate illegal rent hikes and issue fines to landlords.

Can my landlord evict me for disputing a rent increase in New Jersey?

No. State law prohibits retaliation if a tenant exercises rights under rent control ordinances. Landlords cannot evict, harass, or take other negative actions against tenants who dispute rent increases allowed by law. Tenants have legal recourse if a landlord tries to retaliate.

Where can I learn more about rent control laws in New Jersey?

Contact your local city or county housing agency to obtain a copy of any rent control ordinances that apply in your area. Public libraries or legal aid offices may also have resources on local rent laws. Tenants can also find information on rent control and tenants rights from statewide non-profit organizations.

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