Newark tenants evacuated after landlord fails to pay water bill

Anthony Johnson Image
Thursday, May 11, 2017
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Anthony Johnson has the latest details.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Dozens of people in Newark are without a place to live because their landlord hasn't paid his water bill.

They say his negligence has trickled down to them, with the city evacuating the building.

A few residents went into the building trying to gather any belongings they could carry.

After being kicked out of the building on Monday, former residents are struggling to find another place to call home.

"I have six kids and we live there, and we didn't get no notice, nothing at all," said former tenant Zelinet Alicea. "I pay my rent and I don't understand why."

The building at 98 Clinton Avenue had a strong odor of urine and garbage as soon as you open the front door.

Tenants say the landlord collected rent but never fixed the lock on the front door, allowing criminal activity to take place inside.

The same situation was taking place in the attached apartment building on Thomas Street with the very same owner.

"They went in, looked at the hallways how they were, and told everybody to get out," said former resident Jennett Nater.

The mayor's office says the building had to be shuttered because the owner failed to pay an 'outstanding water bill of $17,000'.

The building had been cited for numerous violations, including defective plumbing and raw waste in the basement.

Tenants say the building had illegally cut up apartments inside.

The mayor's office is trying to help residents find housing but adds, "The problem is that many people were squatters and had no rent receipts", and says "This was an illegal converson so all residents had to be evacuated."

"And the way they did it, we had to go right away," said Alicea. "Just take what you got and go."

There are two liens against the property with fines totalling some $300,000 and the owner will be in court on May 17th.