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Evicted Families May Get Help Under Housing Law

But the little-known provision in the ordinance could prove costly for the municipality.

Parsippany residents who receive an eviction notice because of a change in status—such as the birth of a child—put them in violation of the township's occupancy ordinance have some protection under law.

Section 213, Chapter 42.1 of the township code covers issues related to housing and property maintenance. The law states:

The Township shall establish a Relocation Assistance Fund to be administered by the Director of Human Services. The Fund shall accept relocation assistance payments as required by this Ordinance, and distribute them to eligible displaced tenants.

It further says:

Any tenant who receives a notice of eviction ... that results from zoning or code enforcement activity for an illegal occupancy ... shall be considered a displaced person and shall be entitled to relocation assistance in an amount equal to six times the monthly rental paid by the displaced person.

This six months' rent, under the law, is to be paid by the property's owner-landlord, however, if it has not been paid by the time of the eviction, the township is required to pay the sum to the tenant and then go after the owner-landlord for reimbursement.

This news may be helpful to residents such as a Apartments couple with a disabled child who received an eviction notice last May after Housing Supervisor Rena Plaxe informed them that their bedroom was 15 feet too small to allow a third resident in their single-bedroom apartment.

Mayor James Barberio, hearing of the family's plight in a Township Council meeting, told them that . He attempted to amend the town's 2006 occupancy ordinance to allow waivers to young families who might be forced to move after having a child.

at the Aug. 14 council meeting when Councilman Michael dePierro moved for the ordinance amendment to be scrapped in reaction to town residents who opposed the idea. His council colleagues agreed and voted to scuttle the amendment—which left the Dartmouth Village family again vulnerable.

And they aren't alone: Democratic Town Council candidate Jonathan Nelson told Patch he has heard from other families at other Parsippany apartment complexes who face a similar plight.

Nelson said that while he has long been a strong advocate for laws that prohibit unlawful stacking in town residences, he is outraged by seeing young families facing eviction.

"I do not believe that a young couple living in a one-bedroom apartment with a newborn baby is stacking," he said. "That is what I call a young family starting out in life."

Nelson discovered the relocation assistance information in the law while looking for ways in which to help families facing eviction.

Additionally, he found that under the town's 2012 budget, only $2,000—far less than six months' rent for any resident in Parsippany—is allotted for relocation assistance.

"The draconian stacking ordinance as currently written now exposes the taxpayers in our town to potentially millions of dollars in relocation fees which, by law,must be paid out to these displaced couples," Nelson said. "The only crime I believe they are guilty of is that they had the misfortune of coming into the crosshairs of an overly zealous housing supervisor.

"I wish the current council and administration had read the very laws they swore to uphold," he continued.  

"The mayor should do the right thing and immediately give Ms. Plaxe her walking papers."

Plaxe refused comment to Patch.

Human Services Director Barbara Ievoli said that the last time she recalled relocation assistance being given was "many years ago" in a case that involved a tenant forced to move because the building was uninhabitable by no fault of the person.

Ievoli said the relocation assistance provision applies only when someone is evicted because of an alleged stacking violation. 

"If the person is allowed to finish out their lease, it wouldn't apply," she explained. "A non-renewal of the lease is not an eviction."

About a week after the Aug. 14 council meeting, the Dartmouth Village family received a letter from the complex's General Manager Howard Goldsmith informing them that they would be allowed to stay in their apartment until April 30—the end of their lease, which they will not be permitted to renew.

Patch awaits comments from Mayor Barberio and the members of the Township Council.

Paul Musolino September 07, 2012 at 11:46 AM
B. Eligibility for relocation assistance. (1) Any tenant who receives a notice of eviction pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.2(3) that results from zoning or code enforcement activity for an illegal occupancy, as set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(g)(3), shall be considered a displaced person and shall be entitled to relocation assistance in an amount equal to six times the monthly rental paid by the displaced person. The owner-landlord of the structure shall be liable for the payment of relocation assistance pursuant to this section.
Robert Simpson September 07, 2012 at 03:12 PM
How did Mayor Barberio and the town attorney and the town Council give themselves the right to cancel a lease, which is a legal contract between a tenant and landlord? It seams to me that any occupancy requirements should be considered before the lease is signed and violations of the lease should be enforced..
joe raich September 07, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Parsippant tenants might need to reactivate a tenants association to balance Rena Plaxe and the housing department , the Zoning Board, the town council, and reactionaries that have theirown agenda just as we had in the 60's....Jonathan Nelson is on the correct track, keep it up.
bill smith September 07, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Bill, Rena should not be allowed pick and choose who is living illegally. Scott in her office is living on rt.53 in a 1 bedroom garage apartment with his wife and 2 children. Rena must know where her employees live and how many children they have, they take off when they have them. How come his apartment is never inspected? Is it illegal to have a Garage apartment? The Mayor should clean up her department and give her the boot.
Jonathan Nelson September 07, 2012 at 06:20 PM
The whole point is that I do not believe that a couple with an infant living in a one bedroom apartment constitutes stacking. If the Housing Supervisor disagrees, then I believe it is time to hire a new Housing Supervisor. At the March 31 budget meeting which I attended, Council President Stanton questioned what "relocation assistance" meant in the budget. Township Business Administrator Jasmine Lim explained that "this line item was added to the budget when the Overcrowding Ordinance was first implemented since the Township would be responsible for placing tenants that would be potentially displaced in the event of a violation." That quote is taken directly from the minutes of that meeting. The Township should do it's job and go after real stacking violators. Not this nonsense.
joe raich September 07, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Here we go again, Rena's history is a horror. My whole family: husband,wife,3 pre school boys were the guinea pigs of Rena's '70's. Being evicted aint pretty. Today it's gotta be worse, with hidden motives, a political culture that wants to destroy anything that resembles affordable housing, and those using stacking to mostly promote themselves, exasserbates those struggling to survive. Rena and her appointed position was wrong then, it's even more wrong now.
Todd M. Finchler September 07, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Airlines do not charge for children under the age of two who can sit on their parents' laps. Kind of a common sense rule. Going from two lawful adult occupants to an illegal third - when the third is a newborn or an infant - does not appear to be the intended target of a stacking ordinance, although the ordinance does not factor in age - just number of occupants. Newborns and infants sleep in cribs - and often do not require their own bedrooms. Seems to me that a common sense age-based exception can be written into the existing law. That would serve to put new parents on notice that they have two years to find a more suitable place of abode. That would serve due process much more than "30 days and you're out."
Citizen Jane September 07, 2012 at 11:55 PM
I do feel badly for the family, but this is hardly an infant, it is a 4 year old. I don't get why there is not more of an effort to get this family into a 2 bedroom apartment? It is not that much more than a one bedroom. I am perplexed that this never seems to come up.
Jonathan Nelson September 08, 2012 at 12:16 AM
There is another couple who has lived in a one bedroom apartment and has a six month old baby. They were sent an over-crowding eviction notice this week. My comments were about them.
Par4theCourse September 08, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Whatever side you choose to be on, we should agree on one thing, that Mr. Nelson did his due dilligence in researching this. What the beck is the township attorney being paid for? Kudos, Jonathan, I welcome a man like you to lead our local government.
North Vale September 08, 2012 at 02:34 AM
back to the housing lady.. why is she permitted to park illegally in a fire zone all day at the building when elderly people like us have to walk a distance. And why was she allowed to bring her dog to the office for almost a week. And why can she is take naps in her office when we get told we can not sleep on the recliners by the pool tables.
Mary S September 08, 2012 at 03:22 AM
My daughter attended Central and Parsippany High with Mr. Nelson. Keep up the good work Jonathan!!! I think I have lived in Parsipany too long. I remember when Rena worked for the township's consumer affairs division until she was fired by Frank Priore. Soon after she was terrorizing everyone who lived in Troy Hills Village while working as the property manager. I almost forgot that she fought the township tooth and nail while head of the Property Owners/Managers Association of Parsippany. Why in gods name is she running the housing department now?
Citizen Jane September 08, 2012 at 03:25 AM
My apologies, I thought we were discussing the family that originated the discussion. I tend to agree that an expecting family should have til the end of a lease to find a larger apartment. I still do not understand why the family with the 4 year old cannot be found a two bedroom. It is the best solution and requires no political intervention.
june mykietyn September 09, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I've been a Parsippany resident for 50 yrs,as well as my parents,my sister,..my daughter is renting a home,a 2 bedroom,she has a child,became pregnant while residing in this home,the baby is 9 months,unfortunatly the measurments are short as well,they now must finish out their lease and move..I understand stacking and don't agree with it at all,but again..my family is a family just trying to start out and put their children through the Parsippany school system,as they went through..I used to be very political in Parsippany when my children were younger,as they entered the middle of their teen yrs.,I gave up..same politics,same ppl..I don't believe in stacking at all!!..but there is a difference..
Bob Crawford September 09, 2012 at 07:32 PM
June Please don't give up on trying to bring about much needed political change to Parsippany. Indeed hoping that people will give up is exactly the formula that many of the incumbents who currently hold office on the Board of Education and on the Town Council and in the Mayor's office depend on to ensure that they are allowed to continue in office pursuing their self serving "politics as usual" agenda. Much needed change will only come if and when Parsippany residents stand up and together take back responsibility for ensuring that our town serves familes of all sizes and all means. Now is the time to stand up and send a very clear message to many of Parsippany's elected officials that mediocrity and mendacity are not behaviors that will be rewarded at election time.
Alex Johnson September 09, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Bob, I agree, this town needs a change of leadership!!
redfaced September 10, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Stacking is when more then one family live together under one roof. I cannot imagine June cares to pay increased taxes for the children of two or more families living under one roof and paying taxes for one, taking advantage of the school district. Schools receive the largest portion of your taxes. Boo hoo to June and her family who are living in an undersized space, different from stacking, who wish to get away with what others are not aloud to. If her family did not have this issue, she would be on the other side of the fence, much like the others in this situation.
Frank Drebin September 10, 2012 at 02:26 AM
redfaced. What is a family? If I live in the same apt as my girlfriend is that stacking?
Ace Hardey September 10, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Rena Plaxe is an evil woman, I would like to know how she become a housing supervisor, what are her qaulifications other then being a nasty old bitch
James Kelly September 10, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Redfaced, Your missing the point what started this discussion is about a true family unit. A father, a mother and a child, not multiple familys in an apartment. People should not be discriminated against because they can not afford or find a 2 bedroom. They should at least be able to live out their lease! Before 2006 and the new ordinance you were grandfathered if your child was born while you lived in your apartment.
Chriss Collins September 10, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Hey Redfaced, I liked James's and Franks replies. Why don't you use you real name are you afraid your neighbors would boo hoo you and realize you are like evil Rena. You people just bring up the school budget to hide your prejudice. Pre-Rena what would you blame the your taxe's on. The school budget? Some things never change!!!
june mykietyn September 10, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Thanks Bob,I haven't been this fired up in a very long time,..to the individual who hides behind the"redface"..did you really read my comment?,or just start typing? My daughter who must move rents her own home,2 bedroom,2 children..inches shy by the square footage..her landlord obviously pays taxes..correct?,so my daughter who rents really isn't putting a burden on you,her children aren't even in school yet..should you care to debate,that's fine..but let's sit across a table from one another,look each other in the eye's..and let's be honost while we are at it..ThankYou

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