NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued June 25, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Cumberland County, Docket No. LT-1693-12.
Brenda L. Rascher argued the cause for appellant (South Jersey Legal Services, Inc., attorneys; Ms. Rascher, on the brief).
Christopher J. Hanlon argued the cause for respondent (Hanlon Niemann, P.C., attorneys; Mr. Hanlon, on the brief).
Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Sabatino.
Defendant Frank Ferretti, Jr., a tenant in a mobile home park operated by plaintiff Vineland MHC, LLC, appeals from default judgment granting summary dispossession to plaintiff, and from the Law Division's two orders denying his motions to vacate the judgment. Defendant's main argument on appeal is that the pre-suit notices served by the landlord were deficient, thereby depriving the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction to dispossess him. We affirm.
We derive this factual and procedural background from the record. At the relevant times, defendant was the owner and occupant of a mobile home located on plaintiff's property in Vineland. Defendant resided on the lot pursuant to a written lease with plaintiff dated September 1, 2006. The lease identified defendant as the "Resident" on the lot.
Paragraph 8 of the lease set forth restrictions and protocols regarding the resident's guests. That provision stated, in relevant part:
If any family members of the Resident(s) are to live in the home with the Resident(s), the Resident(s) shall provide a list of the names of said family members to the Landlord prior to the signing of this Lease. No other family members or guests will be permitted to live in the mobile home Community or visit for longer than seventy-two (72) hours without the written permission of the Landlord. . . . All guests must register with the Landlord.
Another key provision of the lease, paragraph 3, entitled "Duration of the Lease, " stated:
This Agreement gives the Resident(s) the right to occupy the above names [sic] space for a residency of a one year period, commencing on the day of Sept[.] 1, 2006. Thereafter, this Lease shall renew as a month[-]to[-]month Lease, subject to written notification All rights granted to the Resident(s) by this Agreement shall end upon the death of the person or persons who are names [sic] as Resident(s) in this Lease Landlord shall not be liable to Resident(s) for any failure to give Resident(s) possession of the leased property at the start of this Lease nor shall any such failure constitute a breach under this Lease However Rent shall only be charged from the date on which possession is made available to Resident(s) If Landlord cannot give Resident(s) possession within 30 days after the starting date of Lease Resident(s) shall have the option to cancel this Lease
Although defendant apparently paid his rent a concern arose about his practice of allowing other individuals to reside with him in the mobile home without registering them with plaintiff the landlord The situation was described as follows in a certification by Jeanne Ramos plaintiff's property manager:
It has come to our attention that Mr Ferretti has numerous individuals residing in his home They have been seen coming and going from there repeatedly I do not know who they are and he refused to tell me I have discussed this with him and he has not denied it in fact he admitted it During these discussions I informed him that he was violating the Vineland Hills Mobile Home Park Lease He never made an inquiry about what the applicable Lease was or expressed any ignorance concerning this obligation He only communicated defiance He told me "if they give me a forty ounce beer I let them stay here"
Because of this ongoing problem, plaintiff served a notice to cease on defendant by regular and certified mail in September 2011. The notice to cease, dated September 16, 2011, was signed by ...