LETTER: Jersey City tenants need right to counsel to check predatory landlords


In a letter to the editor, Jersey City renter Rodolfo Santos explains why he feels the city needs right to counsel to keep predatory landlords in check.

Photo by Nicolas Wolfgang Arango.

Dear Editor,

As a tenant, I have experienced first-hand the abuses that landlords can inflict upon vulnerable renters.

My family’s experience with our predatory landlord was a never-ending nightmare that involved illegal fumigation, weaponized neglect, harassment, and subsequent retaliatory behavior.

My first encounter with predatory behavior occurred when our landlord attempted to force entry into our apartment for fumigation without prior notice. We contacted the state and discovered that the fumigator’s license had expired.

To make matters worse, my landlord sent us a bill for the illegal fumigation, which we reported to Jersey City’s Landlord-Tenant Office. The response we received was shocking – to not pay and take legal action if necessary.

It became clear that the city was unable to hold landlords accountable and often encouraged tenants to pursue time consuming, and costly legal action.

The retaliation and harassment that followed were overwhelming. My family was bombarded with letters up to three times a week, ranging from threats of eviction to notices of rent increases well above the Consumer Price Index.

We wish Right To Counsel would have existed during this difficult time. Having access to legal counsel and attorneys with valuable knowledge of our rights as tenants would have helped us navigate through the complexities of the system.

I urge Jersey City to pass the Right to Counsel ordinance to protect tenants’ rights and prevent predatory landlords from using the court system to intimidate tenants.

It is time for our city leaders to take a stand and ensure that tenants have the support and representation they need to stay in their homes and thrive in our community.

RTC is a step in the right direction for protecting the rights of vulnerable tenants who may not know or understand their rights.


Rodolfo Santos
Jersey City resident

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