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Apartment Resident: I'm Left Out in the Cold

Two recent disputes involving residents of local apartment complexes and the town's housing department raise questions.

The news is happy for a married couple with a disabled daughter who live in a Parsippany apartment.

After spending a few days in fear because of an eviction threat reportedly from the township's Housing Coordinator Rena Plaxe, , assured that 12-year resident Ranya Tabik and her husband had done nothing wrong.

He promised them they could stay in their apartment and told Patch a misapplied ordinance that limits the number of people who can live in a one-bedroom apartment based on the square footage of the dwelling will be changed.

The news so far is not as pleasant for Lisa Etkin, who says she has experienced severe problems with having heat consistently over the past three years in the  apartment in which she has lived for more than a dozen years.

Etkin said she has gone to the housing department numerous times and has only received space heaters that don't get the job done. When she recently went to Plaxe for assistance, Etkin said she was told that no inspectors were available to help her.

Her problems appear to be escalating.

In a letter Etkin sent to the Town Council, she explained that money is now becoming an issue.

"Because the heat problem was so severe this winter and I had no help from the apartment complex or housing, I did not sign the lease in January until the heat was resolved," she wrote. "The apartmentcomplex started returning my rent checks and wants late fees and attorney fees, however they did nothing to resolve the heat problem and never sent a maintenance person over.

"I am on a fixed income as a surgery... left me disabled at the age of 30. The apartment complex wants close to $1,000 for the late and legal fees, and I need your help."

Though she has shared her story with the Township Council, no resolution has taken place yet. 

Etkin did note that any positive instances in her situation only happened when the mayor's office got involved.

A question sent to the mayor regarding this case was not answered.

Barberio has declined to comment on the work the housing coordinator has done.

An e-mailed request for information to the department has not been answered.

Do you live in a Parsippany apartment? What is the experience for you?

Richard May 18, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Ms. Etkin is experiencing "habitability" issues. Landlord-tenant laws in NJ are very much tenant favored if exercised properly by the tenant. She should have consulted with a "landlord/tenant" attorney. See "Lawyers Guide" section of phone book yellow pages for attorneys who hold themselves out as specialists in this area.
Michelle J May 18, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Wow... I live in Knoll Gardens and it was so damn hot in my apartment all winter that I had to leave the windows open!
charleschap May 19, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Plaxe is a bully and the Mayor doesn't have the coconuts to stand up to her. Her salary is paid through taxes paid by the very same people she beats up. This should give the tax payer authority to relieve her from duty.
Frank Drebin May 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Who gave Plaxe the job?
joe raich May 20, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Parsippany has successfully destroyed tenants rights organizations over 20 years ago. A lawyer for tenants rights makes me ill. What's worse is the political disenfranchisement of apartment dwellers.
Natalie Davis (Editor) May 20, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Lt. Drebin, she has been working for the township since Mayor Luther's administration.
Frank Drebin May 20, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Thanks Natalie.
Meredith Persson May 21, 2012 at 07:26 PM
My experience in going into many of the complexes is that overcrowding is not being addressed. Three people living in a one bedroom apartment should be the least of the housing department's worries. What about 1 bedroom apartments with 4 or more children in them or 2 bedroom apartments with 12 people in them? I have seen these things with my own eyes and I'm sure a check of school address records or driving by a bus stop at some of these complexes would only confirm that. I would also guess that some of the "extra" people in these apartments are undocumented or maintain a legal residence elsewhere.
Femailmailman June 26, 2013 at 04:18 PM
My daughter lives in Knoll Gardens and has been so hot in her apartment she has windows open in the winter. She wishes she could turn the heat down. As far as the overcrowding issue in some apartments....when we went to look at the models, we saw one bedroom apartments with overwhelming amounts of children's toys outside in front of them. Also, toddlers standing on the sofa looking out the windows at us. There are some tenants(despite the "NO PETS" rules in the lease) that have pets....dogs and multiple cats. They also feed the stray cats. The previous tenant in my daughters apartment also had a cat, quite evident by all the cat hair left behind in the radiators, in the window screens, under the stove/fridge and in all the closets. Cat litter in the closets too.

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