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Cima v. Elliott

Decided: January 25, 1988.

ADRIENNE CIMA, PETER CIMA, CHRISTOPHER CIMA AND MARYELLEN CIMA, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GILDA ELLIOTT, DEFENDANT



Eichen, J.s.c.

Eichen

[224 NJSuper Page 437] This summary dispossess action raises the narrow but novel question whether the statutory term "owner" as used in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 l (3) of the Anti-Eviction Act (hereinafter "the

Act") includes one of several joint tenants. This court concludes that it does.

The pertinent facts are as follows:

On October 15, 1985 plaintiffs acquired title to a two-family house located at 146 Euclid Avenue in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey as joint tenants. Plaintiffs consist of a mother, father and their two adult children, Christopher and Maryellen. The family resides nearby at 121 Euclid Avenue, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey with a maternal grandparent. The purchase price of the property was $85,000. Each of the plaintiffs is jointly and severally liable on a $68,000 note and mortgage given on the property.

Defendant lives in one of the apartments located on the second floor of the two-family house as a month-to-month holdover tenant, her lease having expired on August 31, 1987. The first floor apartment is occupied by a tenant who is also a relative of plaintiffs.

On August 31, 1987 defendant was served with a notice to quit and demand for possession which advised her to vacate the apartment by October 31, 1987 on grounds that "the owner intends to personally occupy the premises," pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 l (3). That section of the Act provides in relevant part:

No lessee or tenant . . . may be removed by the . . . Superior Court from any . . . building . . . leased for residential purposes . . . except upon establishment of one of the following grounds as good cause:

l.(3) The owner of a building of three residential units or less seeks to personally occupy a unit, . . .;

On November 1, 1987 Christopher was married. He and his new wife desire to move into defendant's apartment. They are presently living with the family in overcrowded conditions at 121 Euclid Avenue. Plaintiffs all agree and consent to Christopher and his wife occupying the apartment presently occupied by defendant.

Although conceding that the Act permits "[t]he owner" of a building with three residential units or less to remove a tenant when the owner seeks to personally occupy his unit, defendant contends that the term "owner" does not include multiple ownership situations unless all of the owners seek to occupy the unit.

Defendant emphasizes the fact that Christopher did not contribute financially to the acquisition of the building nor does he contribute monetarily to its maintenance, including payment of the mortgage and taxes. Plaintiffs counter with evidence that Christopher assisted in renovating the premises and in performing the repairs to the apartments. This court does not consider ...


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