House of Hell_Final

Seriously. I wasn’t lying when I had hellish living situations.

Want to explain that the subject of this blog is not a typo. It is, in fact, the final document name of a letter that my roommates and I sent to the better part of everyone who is anyone to help with renter’s rights. This was sent back on July 28, 2005 and nearly six years later still makes the three of us laugh, cringe and wince that we actually made it there for a full year. What were we thinking is right?!

As with all my letters posted on this blog, names have been removed, or use initials, and funny identifying details have been placed [in between these little doohickeys].

I can already hear the gasps when you start reading this letter…

***

Dear All [all is everyone and anyone that would have been in a position to help with renter’s rights – there were many names on this list, as well as cc’d]:

We are writing to have a formal complaint noted on record against our landlord, [landlord from hell who will be referred to as LFH throughout this letter].

Please note we have placed several complaints to City Hall, but as you read on there is not much they can do because of the type of dwelling we live in.

We have had no assistance to date other than sending letters to the landlord from City Hall requiring him to clean up vermin. As you read on, you will find that is probably a minor concern along all of the other disasters occurring in our apartment.

Your help is urgently needed to stop this landlord and others like him.

Also note, we are writing this and copying many different people and departments because our goal is to:

1. Make as many people as possible aware of our situation
2. Beg for help in resolving this situation

With that said, no help has been given, no results have been gotten and we are living in what can only be called an unfit living situation.

As ridiculous as the reality genre has become, perhaps this can be Real World: Hoboken or perhaps Bad News for the Landlord. Maybe Saturday Night Live needs a few skit writers. Well, they can find them in this letter.

Before going to the formal complaint, please know that we have exhausted all of the resources that we know of – the landlord himself and City Hall, to no avail. You are our last resort. Please don’t let us down.

The Situation:

We had telephoned in a complaint earlier in the year, February, 2005, regarding vermin in the apartment. Before that complaint was filed, we had approached our landlord directly about exterminating the apartment after several mice were found in traps that we had set down. He gave us more traps and steel wool and told us that “the mice won’t hurt you. They are looking to stay warm.”  Cute or not, the three of us do not wish to share our apartment with vermin. Therefore, we did not accept this excuse and telephoned the complaint in to the Board of Health, which had sent out a letter requiring him to hire an exterminator to comply with being a landlord in Hoboken.

We have been living with exposed poison and traps, since then, but finally the problem seemed to be resolved, until recently.

We have found half eaten and completely eaten blocks of poison. Traps have been moved and feces have been sighted.

The laundromat workers at [the laundromat the landlord owns on the ground floor of the building we lived in] told us that the [landlord] is out of the country for several weeks. They had not informed us of this themselves and now we find ourselves with a mouse problem coupled with several other issues.

The water leakage has been a recurring problem since we have moved in and with the amount of rainfall expected in the next few days, that leads us to a leakage.

Above the bed in one of the rooms, the ceiling continuously falls each time it rains.  Our landlord’s “solution” to this was to have the ceiling repainted back in November.  A second “solution” was to cover the roof with a garbage bag to hold the rain and prevent further water damage.  Both “solutions” clearly did not work, as they had nothing to do with fixing the ceiling and were merely cosmetic.  Since the time of the repainting, the paint chips fall on the bed, bedspread, and even S, as she sleeps.  This is an unacceptable living condition for one who is paying money for a solid “roof over her head.”

Please note: the health department is sending a NOV (notice of violation) citing unsafe living conditions

Another issue occurred in mid-May 2005, when [LFH] decided to fix the stairs, which had been shaky since we first moved in.  We had complained several times to him that it felt as though the stairs would simply going to collapse at any time.  Clearly not taking this complaint to heart, he finally brought in two “workers” to repair the stairs, some seven and a half months later.  We would have been elated about this, had he informed us when these repairs would be made.  However, he did not.  M came home one afternoon to discover that the staircase leading to our apartment was gone.  In its place were beams and two “workers” constructing what appeared to be the beginnings of a staircase.  With no idea how to get up to her apartment, one of the workers suggested he give her a boost.  Since she had to change to get to work, this seemed like the only option.  One “worker” then literally tossed her through the air where she clung to the upstairs landing, hoping against hope, not to fall to her death.  Upon exiting her apartment some 45 minutes later, she discovered only one stair had been built.  She was now required to climb down the fire escape into her downstairs neighbors apartment to leave, as the “leap of faith” did not seem as though it should be tested twice.  Again, these are not living conditions that any person who is paying decent money to occupy residence within a building, should have to sustain.

Another problem we would like to report, which has since been resolved were lights, Christmas lights, which hang around the awning of the Laundromat. The lights have fallen down and now block the entrance to our doorway. This is a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible because the outlets in our apartment are very old and [LFH] himself will not touch them. For example, the lights in L’s bedroom went out a few weeks after we moved in and his solution was to provide a freestanding halogen lamp so that he wouldn’t have to bring in an electrician. Well, if he is afraid of the lighting, we are too. And would prefer someone with a knowledge of outlets to take care of this problem. [Please note: the health department told us to call the department for fire safety and they were called at 3.35pm on Monday, July 18, 2005 and made the fix.

With that said, we have another problem to site.  The bathtub does not drain water when showering.  We have tried everything from Liquid Plumber to Drano to plunging the tub and still, when one takes a shower, you exit from a bath. In fact the water is so high the body would displace the water over the tub if you were to take a bath.  With three girls all having tight schedules in the morning, this makes for yet further unacceptable living conditions.  We are literally forced to shower while standing in the previous occupants water. We have complained several times to our landlord, but he has yet to take action.  Now, when it is at its absolute worst, he is conveniently out of the country. And we are out of the bathroom. We are forced to brush our teeth in the kitchen since the water in the sink fills up without draining – and better yet, we are forced to find alternate showers around town — either at friends’ apartments and at the gym.

Finally, we would like to point out that the Hoboken Housing Authority told us that if there were three or more units in the building, housing would take over. Unfortunately, with only two units in the building, we do not fall into that category. Instead, we are considered a one to two family house and are exempt from a good portion of the housing standards that other buildings need to comply with.  We were told that the city needs to adopt certain buildings and we have not been adopted. With these violations, we would strongly recommend the city reconsider their guidelines.

We would also like to note that between the three of us in the apartment, we are not newcomers to Hoboken. Combined, we have been living in town for over ten years and have been exposed to a variety of apartments, landlords and procedures since each of us has lived in different apartments around town. This is the only living situation that we have all encountered that has no procedure and where the landlord has not a care in the world about his tenants.

We also plan on attending the renter help meeting we were informed of, that takes place at St. Matthew Parish House on the corner of 8th and Washington this Thursday night. They have a drop in center that offers free advice to tenants and landlords.  Hopefully we can be helped, since clearly there are major violations going on here.

In the interim we would like to have this letter on file as a formal complaint by the residents of [our address].

We have taken many pictures of the disasters in the apartment, overturned traps, flooded floors, tubs and broken mirrors that have not been replaced.

We have also attached renters rights act as we have it. We believe Mr. [LFH] is in violation of several of these rights.

Please let us know if there are any necessary next steps to take. Please do not tell us to suck up the next few weeks because we refuse to do it. And he should be stopped – this is unfit living and no one should have to endure what we have.

Best Regards,

[disgusted tenants]

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