Long Term Residents In 43-Unit NJ Hotel Facing Foreclosure Claim Foul; Say Management Gave Them The Boot Without Going Thru Proper Eviction Proceeding
- Claiming that she and fellow residents at the [43-unit] Hotel Pitman were illegally evicted on Nov. 14, Christy Blair cites the New Jersey statutes for proof. "My husband and I were both residents of the Hotel Pitman and I say residents, not guests, because we lived there for almost 14 months," said Blair. "Many of the people living there were long-term, and according to NJSA 55:13-B-3 (h), if at least 15 percent of the rooms of a hotel are occupied by people who have lived there for more than 90 days, the law considers that property a rooming or boarding house, which means we should have the same rights as boarding house residents, including the right to be legally evicted." Instead, said Blair, residents encountered only a flier hanging in the lobby six weeks before the hotel's closure.
- Another resident, Jesse Evans, says he has been living in a pick-up truck since he lost his room at the hotel. He was also unable to get back in to retrieve his possessions, he said. "A rumor started in the summer that the hotel would go into foreclosure, but we mentioned it to management and they flatly denied it," said Evans. "All that appeared was that letter mentioning economic circumstances six weeks before it closed, and that was unsigned. Based on the law (specifically, NJSA. 2A: 18-61.2), New Jersey required him to give us 18 months' notice." Evans echoed Blair's complaint about the lack of a signed
- According to borough officials, the hotel will go to sheriff's sale on Dec. 9.
For more, see Pitman Hotel closing illegal, evicted claim.
For more on tenants' rights in New Jersey, see:
- The Nuts and Bolts of Fighting Evictions,
- Tenants' Rights in New Jersey (go here for index), Legal Services of New Jersey’s guide to landlord-tenant law for New Jersey residents,
- Rights of NJ tenants in Rooming and Boarding Homes and Mobile Home Parks.
(1) According to the story, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Public Information Officer Lisa Ryan confirmed the residents' reading of the law. "If at least 15 percent of the dwelling units were, in fact, occupied over 90 days, the building would have been subject to the Rooming and Boarding House Act of 1979 and to the protections accorded under the Residential Eviction Law, NJSA 2A:18-61.1," said Ryan. "The people impacted are free to seek legal representation at their local legal aid office."
"If it was considered a boarding house, those residents should be covered by the anti-eviction act. Even some hotel residents are protected by that act," said Joanne Gottesman, a clinical associate professor at Rutgers University School of Law in Camden. "It sounds like there are some good arguments that the anti-eviction act would apply to them." Gottesman said it seemed like some procedural issues were not followed, and she encouraged the residents to contact South Jersey Legal Services at (800) 496-4570 for help in determining their rights.