Tenants of East Orange's 'The Castle' file lawsuits against landlord due to urgently needed repairs

Anthony Johnson Image
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
'The Castle' tenants suing NJ landlord due to urgently needed repairs
EMBED <>More Videos

Tenants of 'The Castle' building are fighting back and taking their landlord to court after years of hardship and neglect. Anthony Johnson has more.

EAST ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Tenants living in an East Orange building called "The Castle" are filing lawsuits against their landlord.

They say the nearly 100-year-old building needs urgent repairs and they cannot wait any longer, they want a new owner for the building.

Twenty-two families living in the Prospect Street building are suing the five corporate entities associated with Ron Kutas.

OneWall Communities released on a statement on Wednesday.

"OneWall Communities and its owners, including Ron Kutas and any affiliates, do not own or manage 75 Prospect in East Orange, NJ. In fact, the company, its owners and affiliates, have fully divested from East Orange and have had no business interests in East Orange since at least April 2022," the statement said.

The historic "The Castle" has 44-units and a history of neglect by its owners, such as pervasive leaks, mold, and dysfunctional elevators, tenants said. One even had her ceiling collapse on her head while she was cleaning. She ended up with a concussion.

"All of a sudden it just crashed down on me," said Erica Coleman, a tenant. "I started screaming."

Tenants spoke about their hardships involving the building that go as far back as 2002 in some cases.

Another resident showed Eyewitness News their bathroom which is unusable due to black mold on the ceilings and walls. It's causing respiratory issues.

The walls are cleaned often but the mold returns and the owners of the property, they say, refuse to fix the problem.

"It's been a problem for a long time now. They'll come and try to do a quick fix, bleach the walls, but mold, you have to fix it from the inside out. You can't just throw bleach over it and try to clean it up. It will stay clean for like a week or two, but we turn the showers on and the steam starts developing, and it gets right back like this," said Lamont Mitchell, a tenant.

For weeks the elevator on one side of the building was not working, which meant some were forced to use an elevator on the other side of the building and walk across the roof and down some steps to their apartments.

"I never would go over the roof at night and if it rained I would never go out, but it just stopped my quality of life," said Denise Wright, a tenant.

On Wednesday afternoon, the health and fire department came by to check for code violations, but residents say the owner is letting the building crumble because he wants to remodel and make more money.

The mayor of East Orange says they are trying to find a solution.

"We'll continue to work with these tenants here because they have a right to fight for good living conditions in this building," Mayor Ted Green said.

The Rutgers Law School Housing Justice and Tenant Solidarity Clinic is representing the residents in the lawsuits.

ALSO READ | Tourist walks across Trevi Fountain in Rome to fill water bottle

Bad idea! A woman stunned onlookers as she walked across the Trevi Fountain and used one of Rome's most iconic tourist attractions to fill up her water bottle.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New Jersey news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.