Common Real Estate Legal Matters [New Jersey]

In New Jersey, legal issues involving real estate are fairly common, considering the wide range of topics that real estate law covers.  However, some of the legal issues can still be a surprise. For example, buying a house, a common real estate legal matter, might include wire fraud from a suspicious transaction. Of course, this might not be where most people’s minds go to when they are thinking about legal issues involved in real estate.

Considering the high stakes, i.e., the money involves and the potential losses, it is strongly advised not to try and attempt to tackle these legal problems on your own.  Hiring an attorney well-versed in real estate law should be an easy sell. 

Typical real estate legal matters include:

  • Misleading information for real estate listings
  • The contract for the purchase or sale of property
  • Disclosure agreements
  • Landlord and tenant laws
  • Zoning and variances

Misleading information for a real estate listing

This misleading information can include using photos from a different property than the listing, which can sometimes result in misrepresentation in advertising claims. While such a visual misrepresentation is an apparent ethical violation for realtors, there is a large amount of legal gray area for the visual editing of photographs of a real estate listing.

Regardless of malicious or mischievous intent, accidental information can still result in legal liability.  For instance, sometimes a record for the property may be outdated or originally recorded erroneously. Regardless of the person’s intent, incorrectly stating crucial information such as property boundaries and square footage of the property can still result in the institution of legal action. 

The contract for the purchase or sale of property

The importance of having a qualified real estate attorney review the legally binding contract of sale before being signed cannot be understated. This review is crucial to both parties. The New Jersey escrow period, or the period in which a buyer or seller can legally withdraw from the agreement without consequence, lasts for three days.

During this time, it is almost required to have a real estate lawyer review the contract, advise the client of any implications, and discuss the proposed changes and edits until all parties are in agreement. 

Disclosure agreements

Similar to the agreement required for the purchase and sale of the property, sellers are obligated to notify potential buyers of any known defects that could be viewed as a misrepresentation. If the seller fails to inform the purchaser of the known defect, it can lead to a voided contract, and the seller can be exposed to financial liability.

In most cases, an inspection will occur before the signing and purchase of the sale agreement. If the seller does not fix any issues identified in this inspection, then the buyer is allowed to exit the agreement prematurely.

Landlord and tenant laws

Relationships between landlords and tenants and issues related to this contractual relationship are under the purview of real estate law in New Jersey. For example, if a landlord charges more than one and a half months’ rent for the security deposit, the landlord is engaging in illegal acts. 

In addition, retaining the security deposit without cause for more than 30 days after the tenant has terminated the lease is not allowed. 

Zoning and variances

New Jersey municipalities are in charge of directing how land is used.

Call (732) 449-0449 to schedule a consultation with Anthony J. Cafaro, P.C. in our Sea Girt office.

NOTE: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice


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