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                                         98 N.J.L.J. 937
                                        November 6, 1975


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Agent to Recover Possession or
Rentals Acting as Attorney Pro Se

    The question presented here is whether or not the authorization contained in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-31 includes the right for the agent to act as his own attorney.
        N.J.S.A. 2A:18-51 provides:
        Tenancy created by agent; termination by owner; recovery of possession or rentals.

        If real estate is leased by an agent of the owner thereof, in his own name or as agent, the owner, his assignee or grantee may terminate the tenancy as the agent might do. The owner or his duly authorized agent, assignee or grantee may institute and maintain proceedings in any county district court to recover the possession or the rentals thereof in their own names or in the name of the former agent, in the same manner and with the same effect as though the real estate had been leased in their own names.

    It seems clear from the title and the first sentence, as well as from the terms of its legislative forerunner, L. 1905, c. 253, §1, that the primary (if not the only) intent of the legislature was to give the agent, or the owner if he was not the one who made the lease, status to maintain the action as plaintiff.
    But is there a necessary implication that this statute permits the agent to act as his own attorney? This Committee thinks not.

    There is now no question but that the New Jersey Supreme Court has sole jurisdiction over the admission to the practice of law. Cf. N.J. Const. (1947), Art. VI, §II, par. 3.
See, for example, Winberry v. Salisbury, 5 N.J. 240 (1950).
    R. 1:21-1 provides, so far as pertinent: "No person shall practice law in this state unless he is an attorney ... provided, however, that a person shall be permitted to appear and prosecute or defend an action in any court of this state if he (1) is a real party in interest to the action. ..."
    It cannot be presumed that the legislature intended unconstitutionally to expand the practice of law by permitting an agent to act as attorney in his own name, and such a result should not be obtained by mere implication.
    It is, therefore, the opinion of this Committee that, while a duly authorized agent may institute and maintain an action for possession, or for rent under the above statute, no agent may do so without engaging an attorney at law of this state to handle the action for him.

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