Collins, J.c.c., Temporarily Assigned.
This is an action for declaratory relief to determine the rights of the parties under their lease agreement, and also under Chapter 210 of the Laws of 1970 entitled "Landlord and Tenant -- Reprisals Against Tenant." N.J.S.A. 2A:42-10.10 et seq.
Plaintiff owns a 752-unit, multi-family garden apartment in the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, Morris County, New Jersey
On June 20, 1968, plaintiff entered into a written lease agreement with defendants Bruce and Beth Fischler, wherein plaintiff leased defendants apartment 307-A for a term of two years commencing July 1, 1968 until June 30, 1970. By memorandum dated March 6, 1970, executed between plaintiff and defendants, the aforesaid lease was extended until June 30, 1971.
Plaintiff admitted that defendant Beth Fischler,
1. Is president of the Troy Hills Village Tenants Association, Inc.
2. Has been active in making complaints to municipal authorities regarding the condition of the plaintiffs property.
3. She and her husband have been active in picketing plaintiff's rental office.
On February 22, 1971 plaintiff mailed a written notice to defendants stating that it intended to terminate their lease effective June 30, 1971.
On September 30, 1970 Chapter 210 of the Laws of 1970 became effective and was enacted into law. N.J.S.A. 2A:42-10.10 et seq. Said statute is entitled "Landlord and Tenant -- Reprisals Against Tenant," and contains the following sections:
1. No landlord of premises or units to which this act is applicable shall serve a notice to quit upon any tenant or institute any action against a tenant to recover possession of premises, whether by summary
dispossess proceedings civil action for the possession of land, or otherwise:
a. As a reprisal for the tenant's efforts to secure or enforce any rights under the lease or contract, or under the laws of the State of New Jersey or its governmental subdivisions, or of the United States; or
b. As a reprisal for tenant's good faith complaint to a governmental authority of the landlord's alleged violation of any health or safety law, regulation, code or ordinance, or State law or regulation which has as its objective the regulation of premises used for dwelling purposes; or
c. As a reprisal for the tenant's being an organizer of, a member of, or involved in any activities of, any lawful organization; or
d. On account of the tenant's failure or refusal to comply with the terms of the tenancy as altered by the landlord, if the landlord shall have altered substantially the terms of the tenancy as a reprisal for any actions of the tenant set forth in subsection a, b, and c of section 1 of this act. Substantial alteration shall include the refusal to renew a lease or to continue a tenancy of the tenant without cause.
Under subsection b of this section the tenant shall originally bring his good faith complaint to the attention of the landlord or his agent and give the landlord a reasonable time to correct the violation before complaining to a governmental authority.
A landlord shall be subject to a civil action by the tenant for damages and other appropriate relief, including injunctive and other equitable remedies, as may be determined by a court of competent jurisdiction in every case in which the landlord has violated the provisions of this section.
2. In any action brought by a landlord against a tenant to recover possession of premises or units to which this act is applicable, whether by summary dispossess proceedings, civil action for the possession of land, or otherwise, judgment shall be entered for the tenant if the tenant shall establish that the notice to quit, if any, or the action to recover possession was intended for any of the reasons set forth in subsections a, b, c, or d of section 1 of this act.
3. In any action or proceeding instituted by or against a tenant, the receipt by the tenant of a notice to quit or any substantial alteration of the terms of the tenancy without cause after:
a. The tenant attempts to secure or enforce any rights under the lease or contract, or under the laws of the State of New Jersey, or its governmental subdivisions, or of the United States; or
b. The tenant, having brought a good faith complaint to the attention of the landlord and having given him a reasonable time to correct the alleged violation, complains to a governmental authority with a report of the landlord's alleged violation of any health or safety law, regulation, code or ordinance; or
c. The tenant organizes, becomes a member of, or becomes involved in any activities of, any ...