PLAINFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) — The City of Plainfield condemned two apartment buildings, but residents say they had just paid their August rent and are now out thousands.
Those tensions boiled over Wednesday afternoon when angry residents surrounded the landlord outside the apartment buildings.
Police had to escort him to a waiting car but he was shouted down and surrounded. It was chaotic and hostile and one resident used her fist to express her frustration, punching the passenger’s side window of the landlord’s vehicle.
A resident shared pictures from inside one of the buildings with Eyewitness News, showing the bathroom. Advocates say, the owners target a very specific clientele.
“Some of them don’t have legal paperwork to live here, so they will try to go and make a living in a decent place paying for these. It’s not like they don’t work. They have the money, they pay their dues every first of the month,” an advocate said.
City officials said they had no choice but to condemn the buildings at 501 and 515 when inspectors followed up on a complaint from a resident.
“The two buildings were determined uninhabitable following a recent inspection by the City’s housing task force due to lack of maintenance,” said Tammori Petty-Dixon, Director of Communications for the Department of Community Affairs. “Violation orders issued by DCA’s Bureau of Housing Inspection are issued to the owner/agent of the owner. DCA has been in the process of scheduling the re-inspections of the two buildings that are due this year to see if the violations found during the 2022 inspection have been abated. The Department is working in coordination with the City to help those who have been displaced.”
“The Quality of Life Task Force is made up of staff from health, inspections, fire, police,” a city official said.
They say the families had just paid August rent just days ago, some as much as $4,000. They are furious no one can tell them anything about getting their money back. Many residents went to City Hall seeking answers.
“We’re in shock. So, we all just started to kind of get together and talk to each other to see what we can do because it’s less than 24 hours we don’t know where we are going to go,” a resident said. “No one has the money to just pick up and find another apartment.”
Residents told Eyewitness News, it seems ownership changes hands or at least names many times. They say right now it’s listed under Cyclone West 84 LLC.
The state conducts inspections of multi-family dwellings of four units or more. The city says the company received 235 violations from state inspectors in June of 2022 during the last inspection of 501 West 7th Street.
Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp said state inspectors are constantly in the city, and do not, nor are they required to report conditions they find during their inspections.
“We are usually not informed by the state regarding the results of any inspection that they do conduct,” Mapp said. “But they do give the landlords time to address the violations and this landlord chose to ignore these violations.”
Cyclone Investment Group issued a statement on Wednesday.
“I have no comment at this time except to say that we are doing everything possible to return our tenants to their homes as quickly, safely and responsibly as possible,” the statement said.
The city spoke to the landlords and identified them as Charles Aryeh and Aaron Eichron who have owned six residential buildings in Plainfield and four have already been condemned.
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