SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL PART - TENANCY LAW DIVISION - BERGEN COUNTY, DOCKET NOS. T-82301; T-82307.
This case raises for the first time the issues of whether tenants in a mobile home trailer park wherein a judgment for possession was entered for the landlord on July 27, 1984, such judgment being stayed pending appeal and pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:42-10.6, are still "residents" of said trailer park within the meaning of the term as used in N.J.S.A. 46:8C-3(a) thus being entitled to assert the rights provided thereunder, and if they are residents whether their landlord may withhold approval on proposed sales of their homes within the park on the ground that such refusal to approve is "reasonable" under the circumstances and the statute.
The procedural and factual history of this case may be summarized as follows: Defendant tenants were part of a group of ten tenants who were sued by plaintiff, their landlord, for non-payment of rent in July 1983. Rent payments had been withheld by defendants pending resolution of the issue of fees and assessments charged by the landlord. The ten matters were consolidated and removed to the Superior Court pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-60. Pending discovery and trial in the Superior Court, an order was entered directing the tenants to pay the uncontested portion of the rent to the landlord and the contested portion to an escrow account.
Following discovery, a settlement agreement was entered into on May 30, 1984 which provided that all of the tenants were to pay all of their rent from that point forward. The
present two defendants, Kensharper and Brock, did not pay as required.
A motion was then filed by plaintiff to enforce the settlement agreement and for judgments for possession against the present two defendants, who had not paid rent in accordance with the settlement agreement. Pursuant to that motion, the trial court entered an order enforcing the settlement agreement and awarding judgments of possession against defendants, Kensharper and Brock.
All of the tenants involved appealed the above-mentioned order of the trial court, and the two present defendants, Kensharper and Brock, in addition, appealed the judgments for possession. The Appellate Division affirmed the order of the trial court as to all issues.
Subsequently, defendants sought relief from the trial court's order, seeking to have the judgments for possession vacated because they had paid some of the rent during the appeal. This application was denied by the trial court on July 11, 1985, but the court did grant a hardship stay pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:42-10.6 for a period of three months until October 15, 1985.
During this stay, defendants notified plaintiff, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 46:8C-3(a), that they planned to sell their homes within the park. Plaintiff then indicated that it would not approve any purchasers offered by defendants as tenants within the park and that defendants would therefore be required to sell their homes outside of the park. The basis for plaintiff taking this position was that plaintiff felt defendants were no longer entitled to the rights under N.J.S.A. 46:8C-3(a) of the Mobile Home Protection Act. Defendants then applied to the court to resolve this issue.
A major legislative purpose in enacting the Mobile Home Protection Act, N.J.S.A. 46:8C-1 et seq., was to curb abuses by mobile home park owners on tenants within such parks. Under prior law tenants had little or no recourse from such abuses due to ...