This matter is before the court on a summary dispossess action pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-53 et seq. The plaintiff contends that N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61 et seq. does not apply to his premises as they are owner occupied with two rental units.
The plaintiff is the owner of premises that has three residential units and a tavern on the premises. Plaintiff owns and operates the tavern and lives in one of the residential units. The defendant has been a tenant on the second floor for a number of years going back to before plaintiff purchased the premises.
When plaintiff purchased the premises, there was the tavern and two residential units. Then one of the residential units,
which was on the first floor, was vacated and became part of the tavern. Thereafter, the plaintiff converted the third floor, previously vacant, into two apartments and has occupied one of those units since it was completed in 1988.
The plaintiff has served all the proper notices. The issue presented is whether the building is exempt from the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 because it is an "owner-occupied premises with not more than two rental units . . ."
The New Jersey landlord tenant statutes uniformly have relieved certain owner-occupied premises from the impact of the statute. The relieving clause appears in various ways and with various clauses. The Anti-Eviction Statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1, excepts from for cause eviction "owner-occupied premises with not more than two rental units. The Truth in Renting Law, N.J.S.A. 46:8-44, placed its exception under its definition of landlord where it excepts as landlord ". . . owner-occupied premises of not more than three dwelling units . . ." In the Landlord Registration Act, N.J.S.A. 46:8-27, the exception is located in its definition of landlord when it stated "provided that this definition shall not include owner-occupied two unit premises." Under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(l)(3) there is a provision which permits eviction for an owner who wants to occupy a unit in a building with three or less residential units.
This hodge-podge of exceptions from the landlord-tenant statutes creates the problem of what is meant in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 when it states that its anti-eviction provisions do not apply to "owner-occupied premises with no more than two rental units." In Manning v. Hancher, 217 N.J. Super. 199, 524 A.2d 1357 (Law Div.1986) the court states:
Once the owner legally occupies a building with no more than two other rental units, the the landlord may act under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-53.