Landlords Need to Honor City
I called the Health Division and Inspections after dialing the landlord’s number (he never picks up and has no emergency number as required by state law).
I did get a quick response from Inspections and within a few hours the water was restored.
The other option, according to New Jersey American Water, was that someone in the building would have had to charge $225.64 on a personal credit card to get service restored for 30 days.
There had been a notice posted earlier saying service would be cut off on March 3 unless the bill was paid or a tenant took on the obligation. But when March 3 came and went, we thought everything was OK.
The landlord’s excuse, we hear, was that he thought the cutoff date was March 16. He further explained to someone in the building that he only pays his bills at the last minute.
Well yeah, he ran up a tab for FY 2010 of about $80,000 in back taxes for his various Plainfield properties, in contrast to about $50,000 the year before. This means revenues to the city are delayed because of a property owner’s personal fiscal strategy and he is not the only one, I’m sure.
This is an absentee landlord who has a $700,000 home in Watchung, but apparently feels he can get away with giving Plainfield short shrift.
In 2006, Councilman Ray Blanco responded to my concerns about this building by arranging a meeting of various officials responsible for property upkeep, but the only thing that happened was that the city folder with my photos and complaints disappeared.
As many Plainfielders know, fighting City Hall is quite wearing and often results in the complainant just dropping the whole thing for other life concerns. In fact, many of the tenants here have been totally unaware of their rights as explained in the state booklet, “Truth in Renting,” let alone the long process to redress.
A couple of us tenants never got any notice of where our security deposits went, and so we applied the amounts to our rent as permitted by state law. A new tenant was told her security deposit was “in the bank,” but she got no notice of which bank. So if we get a new owner, we may be subject to providing thousands of dollars in security payments.
It seems our building actually is in the process of being sold and I for one hope the next owner will take seriously the obligation of a landlord and also realize what a prime property this is for transit-oriented development, being only steps away from many bus routes and a couple of blocks from the main train station.
The main reason to honor the legacy of this building is that it was once the home of one the first city councilmen, Joseph Yates.
It is not in any historic district but could possibly qualify for separate landmark status.
Are landlords forgetting the ideals of our forebears when it comes to stewardship of city property?