Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Landlords Need to Honor City

Today the water in our six-family building was turned off because the landlord did not pay the bill.

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?

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

all this landlord is doing is,take the money and run.right back 2 watchung.and does not care a bit,how this place looks.i gave up on the city inspection.matter of fact,i gave up on about anything in this town.i feel like i live in 1 of the connolys buildings.thats how bad it is.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Sounds like a junior version of my landlord.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Bernice said...

Funny you should say so, that was my exact comment to Inspections.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Bernice, I feel for you. My landlord is not HORRIBLE, but he is complacent and does only what it necessary after being strong armed. You and others have it much worse. It's too bad you don't have a city that cares about you and others like you going through these problems. It's so amazing. I have never seen a city administration that stands there and keeps acting like there is nothing they can do. Sad...truly sad. So many people in power and in leadership positions, and no will to use it to help the constituents.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The administration's failure to protect its citizens from even simply avoided inconveniences is reason enough to kill anyone's dream of transit oriented development, but here's a few more reasons why TOD will never be the solution in Plainfield.

The key word is not transit, that's just the base requirement. If all it took were a train station then Orange and Brick Church would be gleaming cities on a hill. The key words are Village and Development. There ain't nothing villagey about Plainfield. There are too many poor, addicted and unemployed in downtown to ever hope to attract a significant buyer class happy to walk freely in the areas surrounding the train station. Witness the Monarch. As for development, well, once again, witness the Monarch.

If that weren't enough, NJ Transit just announced fare increases of 25%. So a round trip to New York will soon cost $20.00, and off-peak tickets will no longer be sold. NJ transit has already lost 5% of its ridership this year. How many more will stop taking the trains? How many more will refuse to pay high taxes and high commutation costs, or at least insist on maximizing their investment?

Despite Dan's recent pooh-poohing of the list phenomenon and Plainfield's poor ranking there's no stopping the explosion of accessible information on where to live and why. Those with serious internet skills, which is pretty much synonymous with those with money, will choose to live where they can have a comfortable in-town life style and see an appreciation on their investment. Plainfield offers neither.

Furthermore, there will be no magic to the one-seat ride to NYC from Plainfield. That will raise house prices in Union, Cranford, Westfield, Fanwood, Somerville and even Raritan but not Plainfield. We'll still be the runt of the litter, further spiraling into high tax, bad school, high unemployment, foreclosure and unauthorized immigrant hell. Some village, huh?

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing will change in this City until, we, all of us stop voting in the same type of leadership, people that only consider me, my, mine. they rob the City and fill their own pockets and the pockets of their friends. even if you vote them in and find out later that their campaign speaches were all lies, we can still throw them out BEFORE THE NEXT ELECTION. WAKE UP PEOPLE.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NJT and the Port Authority are in partnership to build the new rail tunnel to New York. This will allow a one-seat ride to NYC on the Raritan Valley Line when coupled with dual-mode locomotives (able to run diesel in NJ and electric in the tunnel into Penn Station NY). Some of the construction contracts have already been awarded. Look for service before the end of the decade. Massive public infrastructure projects take a long time to build but it is in progress. This will raise the value of property along the line just like the Morristown line experienced when the Mid-Town direct tracks were built allowing service that used to go only to Hoboken to also go to Penn Station NY.

9:09 PM  

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