Plainfield New Jersey condemned the continuing legal battle for the apartments
PLAINFIELD — The city will appeal a judge’s ruling who refused to appoint a rent receiver to oversee repairs to apartment buildings the city condemned this summer, displacing hundreds of residents.
Union County Superior Court Judge Robert Mega on Oct. 23 denied Plainfield’s requests that violations of buildings owned by Cyclone Investments LLC be corrected and remedied within 90 days, and that all rent payments for properties in the community owned by Cyclone Investments be made to Cyclone Investments LLC. . The city appointed attorney Calvin Souder as rent receiver.
“The City of Plainfield is extremely disappointed with the District Court’s recent ruling denying the appointment of a rental receiver for the condemned properties owned by Cyclone Investments. The Court’s decision has the potential to allow the negligent property owner to continue business as usual by ignoring the issue,” a statement from the City Communications Office said. “The wellbeing of vulnerable tenants and the greater community.” “Justice has not been served. The city will appeal this decision.”
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the city against Cyclone Investments, the owner of several apartment buildings that have been condemned for unsafe and unsanitary conditions, including the building at 501 West 7th St. Which led to the displacement of about 300 residents in August.
The city’s lawsuit detailed health and safety issues in hurricane buildings that have not been addressed, some for more than a year. Various branches of Cyclone Investments own properties at 715-725 Arlington Ave., 701-711 Kensington Ave. and 501-515 West 7th St.
Among the sanitary violations listed in the lawsuit are damaged sewer pipes, sewage leaking onto the floor, missing and damaged radiators, broken toilets, no fire escapes, missing and broken hot water heaters and stoves, and excess mold, missing and broken ones. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, leaky roof, hanging electrical wires, no hot water and rodent infestations.
For years, the city has struggled with the complexities of ensuring safe and affordable housing for residents, the city statement said.
“Following the condemnation of several properties owned by Cyclone Investments, the City acted on this obligation by seeking a court-appointed Lease Receiver to oversee necessary repairs and renovations. The Lease Receiver was ensuring that properties within its jurisdiction were properly remedied and in good health.” The appointment of a rent receiver would have moved the process of returning the displaced tenants to their homes as quickly as possible,” the city statement said.
The court ruling states that residential buildings are private property and all issues must be addressed through the city’s municipal code.
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“Plainfield has no rights or interest in the property except the right to enforce municipal law,” the judge’s ruling said. “Despite (Plainfield’s) claims, the Municipal Code provides the city with enforcement mechanisms and remedies in law.”
The ruling also states that appointing a lease guard is “a drastic remedy” and is not available to the city in this case.
The ruling also states that the city lacks standing to file the lawsuit.
“Several of (Plainfield’s) actions indicate that the City of Plainfield overstepped its bounds in these proceedings, such as: its failure to adhere to violation/conviction notice requirements and failure to clearly provide defendants with an opportunity to appeal; and (Plainfield’s) attempts to intervene,” Mega wrote in the ruling. concluded between private parties and Plainfield’s attempts to control assets owned by private parties.”
However, the city says the ruling perpetuates leniency with landlords who blatantly ignore the law at the expense of tenants who have no choice but to live in squalid, life-threatening conditions.
“It is understood within the city that contractors hired to repair condemned buildings have had to abandon their work due to payment disputes with Cyclone Investment. Without a contractor on site and without a designated leasing agent to oversee the repairs, the city is helpless,” the city statement read. “It cannot address the egregious conditions at the properties, return tenants to their units, and hold Cyclone Investments accountable.”
The city is exploring alternative ways to address the situation and protect residents.
“We will not be deterred by this setback and will continue our efforts to ensure that landlords in the city adhere to the highest standards and every resident has access to safe and decent housing,” said Mayor Adrian Mapp.
Susan Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. For unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today