Tenants of East Orange apartment complex file lawsuit against the owner over poor living conditions

Tenants at an apartment building in East Orange have long complained of broken elevators, collapsed ceilings and bad plumbing, among other issues.

Chris Keating

Aug 16, 2023, 4:24 PM

Updated 305 days ago

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Tenants of “The Castle,” an East Orange apartment complex are suing the building owner over poor living conditions. They are calling on the courts to appoint a receivership to take over the building, rent and repairs.
Tenants have complained for years that the owner refused to make timely repairs on broken elevators, collapsed ceilings and shoddy plumbing.
One of those tenants is Erica Coleman. She says that in late July, she had a large ceiling tile in the bathroom fall and hit her in the head. She has asked for repairs, but so far, she’s had no help.
“No work has been done. I know the property manager did reach out to me and said that it’s sad that ‘Bad things happen to good people Miss Coleman,’” Coleman says. “They ignored the fact that a 50-pound piece of ceiling fell on my head.”
Coleman says she is hopeful the lawsuit works.
“We’re hoping that we just get new landlords, someone that actually cares about preserving this building,” says Coleman.
Tenants have enlisted the help of attorneys with Rutgers University to argue that they’ve been paying rent, yet repairs aren’t made. Some tenants are convinced management is intentionally refusing to fix anything, this way they’ll move out of spacious apartments that could be redeveloped.
Tenant Ibrahim Ahmed believes the owners want him out of his seventh-floor, four-bedroom apartment. Holes in his bathroom have not been repaired.
“They want us to move so they can split all of this because it’s big. They want to change it to two apartments,” Ahmed says.
One of the owners named in the lawsuit is Ron Kutas, with OneWall Communities. However, he denied ownership to News 12 New Jersey.
A spokesperson for Kutas released a statement saying, "OneWall Communities and its owners, including Ron Kutas and any affiliates, do not own or manage 75 Prospect in East Orange, NJ. In fact, the company, its owners and affiliates, have fully divested from East Orange and have had no business interests in East Orange since at least April 2022."
The New Jersey State Department of Community Affairs is in charge of inspecting multidwelling complexes, like the Castle. The records show one of the owners may also be someone named Mordecai Weiss.
News 12 has yet to hear his response to the situation at the Castle.
If a receivership is allowed by the courts, the tenants could see a change in a few months.


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