Emily GirschJul 17, 2017, 1:59 pmJul 17, 2017, 3:08 pm

Newark mayor files lawsuit against negligent landlord

Mayor Ras Baraka announced a complaint against First King Properties, the owner of the 'uninhabitable' Garden Spires Apartments

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Rats, mold, and illegal drug activities are just some of the problems plaguing the Garden Spires Apartments located at 175 First Street.

Renita Collins, a Garden Spires resident says, "I have traps in my bedroom, living room, kitchen. Every time we put traps down we catch a mouse.”

Renita, who lives with her two children, says her apartment also does not have air conditioning in the summer, her heat and hot water are sporadic, and her 9-year-old son has developed asthma as a result of the mold.

"I took my son in March for a bad cough, wheezing and coughing and he gets the pump for allergies but this year they said it's asthma," continued Renita.

In a lawsuit filed against First King Properties, the City of Newark declared the two buildings that make up the Garden Spires uninhabitable and orders evacuation and relocation of tenants at the expense of the landlord.

Mayor Ras Baraka says First King has a long history of code violations and that the Gaden Spire complex also contains evidence of urine, human feces, deteriorated sand pipes, damaged window guards, and excessive garbage in public areas.

"Specifically, this action seeks relief on behalf of the city in connection with numerous documented housing violations by the landlord, and the landlord's failure to maintain the property in a living condition,” said Mayor Baraka.

Of the 500 units at the complex, over 300 are occupied by low-income earners. Baraka says it's the landlord's responsibility to relocate all of the tenants. The landlord is still receiving taxes on the property, even for vacant units, though.

Renita Collins moved out in January when the mold became too much to bear. She says she and her children are staying at her mother's apartment until they can find a new place to live.

Renita Collins says, "I'm just asking for help. Please help me and my children find a place to stay that's decent and safe and without health hazards."

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