Jersey City tenants in court dispute with landlord alleging they haven’t had heat for months


Jersey City tenants at a complex on the city’s west side are in a court dispute with a landlord alleging they haven’t had heat for months during the holiday season and the latest COVID-19 surge.

Jersey City resident Betty Gill says her apartment hasn’t had heat for months. Photo courtesy of Jersey City Together.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The heat in our apartments hasn’t been working for months. As tenants, we’ve done everything we could to resolve this. We tried to offer constructive solutions – bringing in contractors to suggest how the issue could be addressed,” Betty Gill, a resident at 96 Duncan Ave. for 30 years, said in a statement.

“We’ve taken them to court. The city has issued violations. Still, the landlord doesn’t seem to care. Now, my neighbors and I are stuck at a hotel for Christmas. This has to stop. Fix the heat, let us go home, and no more intimidation tactics.”

City inspectors from the city’s Quality of Life Taskforce have issued citations to the landlord because of how long they have been without heat. These citations carry the potential of $2,000 in fines per day.

On December 18th, the city offered tenants temporary housing at local hotels. Gill could not immediately be reached for further comment.

The building is rent-controlled and was purchased by the current landlord, Angela Morello Lange – operating as London Legacy LLC – in August for nearly $1.8 million., according to public records.

In addition to months without heat, Lange has failed to make needed repairs that includes water damage, apartments with no working refrigerators, windows boarded up, among other things, and recently dismissed the building’s superintendent, court filings show.

“This is an illegal entry and detainer, which means the landlord has constructively evicted the tenants but not providing heat therefore forcing them to vacate the apartment and seek heat or live in the apartment without heat,” Waterfront Project Staff Attorney Brian Rans said over the phone.

“This is also breach of contract and breach of implied covenant inhabitability. This doctrine states that every residential contract in NJ has an implied covenant that the apartment should be fit for human inhabitation. The lease also states that heat is going to be provided.”

The Waterfront Project is representing Gill and two other tenants in three separate cases, in each of which where a judge has ruled that all three tenants need alternative housing, though there is “a factual dispute” on whether or not the landlord has to pay for it, Rans added.

Lange said over the phone that the tenants had been offered alternatives, but they refused.

“We have offered remedies to the tenants, which they have refused, but are continuing to work through the situation and try to fix it,” she told HCV, declining to comment further due to pending litigation.

The situation was brought to light today due to a joint effort between Jersey City Together and the North New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America.

“This is yet another case of large, corporate landlord abandoning tenants’ rights and needs and leading a rent-controlled building into complete disrepair,” Joel Brooks, a member of the NNJ DSA, stated.

“Temporary housing for these tenants in the midst of increasing COVID-19 infections is not a long-term solution: they deserve to be in their homes, with heat on, to enjoy the upcoming holidays.”

Diane Maxon, a leader with Jersey City Together’s Strategy and Housing Teams, as well as a member of the Church of St. Paul and Incarnation on Duncan Avenue, also weighed in on state and federal rules potentially being violated here.

“We’ve been fighting against abusive landlord tactics like these for years. Freezing tenants out is literally illegal. If she had assaulted one of these tenants on the street, she’d be in jail now,” she chimed in.

“Clearly being fined is not enough punishment for this kind of cruelty. The city and the courts should be using every power they have available to get the heat turned on, including making the repairs and sending the bill to the landlord.”

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