Protections Urged for Tenants Who Withhold Rent over Lead Paint Issues

When tenants hold back rent to force landlords to clean up contamination they often are evicted — and blacklisted when they look for another place.

News Story (New Jersey)

Brenda Flanagan
NJ Spotlight
November 7, 2019

Tags: Lead Poisoning

Organizations mentioned/involved: Essex-Newark Legal Services Project (Newark, NJ)


The bottom line, the advocates said, is that withholding rent, once hailed as a revolutionary tool in compelling landlords to create livable conditions falls far short of that ideal.

“People pass great laws and great regulations, but at the end, do they really mean anything to the people who are at risk?” asked Matthew Chachere of Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp. Legal Services.

Two bills now before the Legislature would offer some relief — S-806 would impose limits on the public release of certain landlord-tenant court actions, and S-805 would bolster the right of tenants to withhold rent based on the “habitability” of a residence. Both, as well as their companions in the Assembly, have been referred to legislative committees.