On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Essex County.
Pressler, Shebell and D'Annunzio. The opinion of the court was delivered by D'Annunzio, J.A.D.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
In this summary dispossession action brought for non-payment of rent under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1a., the trial court determined that defendant had failed to pay as additional rent under the lease $1,640 in damages to the plaintiff's property. The court determined that defendant had flushed cat litter down the toilet, that the litter had caused a blockage in the building's sewer line and that the blockage and resulting flood had caused the damage. The court also determined that the damage was the result of defendant's negligence.
The lease provided for additional rent in paragraph 8, as follows:
Tenant shall at his own cost and expense take good care of the premises and shall repair to the satisfaction of the Landlord all damage and injury thereto, resulting from misuse or neglect and at the end or other expiration of the term deliver up the premises in good order and condition. All injury caused by moving any property into, in or out of the building and all damage caused by overflow or escape of water, gas, steam, electricity or other substance due to the negligence of the Tenant or his family, agents, servants or visitors, shall be repaired by the Landlord at the Tenant's expense. The cost thereof shall be determined on statements rendered by Landlord to Tenant and the sum so determined shall be payable to Landlord upon delivery of such statement,
and if not paid within 10 days thereafter, the same shall become so much additional rent for the succeeding month, payable with the installment of rent next becoming due, and collectable as such.
Defendant's base rent was $302.39 per month. The additional $1,640 in damages escalated defendant's rent to $1,942.39 for the month after defendant had become ten days in arrears of her obligation to pay damages.
Defendant now appeals from a judgment for possession, contending that the finding that she had been negligent was contrary to the weight of the evidence and that the additional rent was not lawfully "due and owing" because it was imposed in violation of the rent control ordinance of the City of Newark.*fn1
Defendant's contention that the finding of negligence is not supported by the evidence is clearly without merit. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A). We conclude, however, that the additional rent was not authorized in the rent control ...