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Bradley v. Rapp

Decided: February 24, 1975.

ROBERT F. BRADLEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JOHN RAPP AND/OR MARGARET RAPP, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Lora, Handler and Tarleton.

Per Curiam

Defendant tenants appeal from a judgment for possession entered in the Essex County District Court. The judgment was based upon a determination that plaintiff landlord was within the exception of N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 (L. 1974, c. 49).

On March 15, 1974 plaintiff purchased the premises at 29 Old Indian Road, West Orange. It is an 80-year-old, two-family home in a residential section, with two dwelling units. Defendants (mother and son) reside in one of the two apartments and another tenant resides in the other. Defendants are month-to-month tenants under an oral lease calling for a monthly rental of $175.

Plaintiff purchased the premises for the express purpose of residing therein with his wife and five children. On April 16, 1974 plaintiff's then attorney served defendants with a notice to quit as of June 1, 1974, a demand for possession and a notice of increase in rent to $450. Plaintiff (now unrepresented by counsel) accepted a tender of the $175 June rent. On June 26, 1974 plaintiff's present attorney served defendants with a second notice to quit as of August 1, 1974 and a demand for possession. Defendants tendered the $175 August rent which plaintiff refused to accept. Defendants did not vacate and on August 6, 1974 a summons and complaint were served.

The matter was heard in the county district court on August 20, 1974 and the trial judge entered a judgment for possession but ordered that issuance of the warrant for removal be stayed until September 1, 1974 with leave to apply for a further stay to October 1, 1974.

On appeal defendants contend that plaintiff's failure to establish "good cause" and to specify the cause of termination under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 and 61.2 create a jurisdictional question warranting review and reversal. Plaintiff

argues that as an "owner-occupant" he is excepted from the statute's provisions.

We agree that the case is properly before us, cf. Marini v. Ireland, 56 N.J. 130 (1970); Carteret Properties v. Variety Donuts, Inc., 49 N.J. 116 (1967); Ivy Hill v. Handa, 121 N.J. Super. 366 (App. Div. 1972), and pass to the merits of the narrow question raised: whether plaintiff falls within the "owner-occupied" exception of N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1.

Assembly Bill No. 1586 was enacted on June 25, 1974 and provided that it shall take effect "immediately"; hence it governs the instant case.

The relevant portion of N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 reads:

No lessee or tenant of the assigns, under-tenants or legal representatives of such lessee or tenant may be removed by the county district court or the Superior Court from any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park or tenement leased for residential purposes, other than owner-occupied premises with not more than two rental units or a hotel, motel or other guest house or part thereof rented to a transient guest or seasonal tenant, except upon establishment of one of the following grounds as good cause * * *. [emphasis supplied]

N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2 provides that the requisite notice "shall specify in detail the cause of the termination of the tenancy." Plaintiff proceeded under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-53 (a) which requires no such specificity in the notice regarding hold-over tenants. The notice in issue did not specify any cause of termination and it is not ...


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