By Bill Cleary
A number of questions arose following the article I wrote recently on Community Pride. For example how many rental properties are there in Gloucester City? Who are the biggest landlords? A request to the City Housing Office for those answers required an OPRA form to be submitted to the City Clerk. Ten days later I was handed a 46 page list that contained the names of the landlords and the addresses of the rental properties for 2010.
In July I had asked City Administrator Jack Lipsett for a list of all the vacant lots in Gloucester City. He said recently that he was still working on compiling that information.
Looking over the Housing Office documents one notices immediately that there are entire blocks of rentals that have taken over neighborhoods located on the west side of Broadway. In fact on the west side of town from Broadway to the Delaware River there are about 813 rental properties. Some are multiple units.
Here are some other numbers according to the Housing Office:
- Total number of rentals (includes commercial, senior housing, trailer park, motels)…1946
- Unoccupied rentals…21, Vacant rental properties …11
- Total amount in fees collected by the City for all rentals (as of 8/13/10) $230,746. The housing office inspection fee for rentals is $175 per unit.
Some of the largest property owners include:
- Jai Amba Gloucester LLC (1200 Crescent Blvd.)…144 rentals
- *Gloucester City Housing manages …101 rentals (includes Gloucester Towne and 10 properties on the west side of Broadway). According to Housing Inspector Joe Stecklair the city of Gloucester City does not own these properties.
- *Gloucester Elderly Housing (430 S. Broadway) …100 rentals (According to Housing Inspector Joe Stecklair the city of Gloucester City does not own these properties.
- Malik, Shaukat and Suraya (58 Crescent Blvd.) …35 rentals
- The Anyzek family owns 42 rentals
- The Patterson family owns 37 rentals
- The City of Gloucester City (Chatham Square 50 Crescent Blvd. and the former Coast Guard base 101 S. King St.)… According to Housing Inspector Joe Stecklair the 100 Chatham Square apartments have been reduced to 22 apartments.
The total number of housing units depends on what source you use. The 2000 census says 4604 housing units. But the **NJ Tax search engine (see link below) says there are 3678 residential properties (1 to 4 family), 267 commercial properties, 231 vacant lots, 27 industrial, 153 public properties.
City Housing Office Inspector Joe Stecklair, who has worked in the Housing Office for 18 years, is in charge of the day to day operation of that department. There are four people in his office, three of which work on inspecting the rentals and homes that go up for sale. He was asked in writing a number of questions regarding this topic. The questions and his responses are below.
What is the biggest issue that you have to deal with when it comes to rental properties? (Example, landlord not maintaining the property)
Answer: Landlords who do not do thorough background checks on tenants moving into their property. Ex. Such as checking their previous residence condition, any problems within that community caused by that tenant, communication with previous landlord good or bad. Weak leases (or no lease! My meaning is distinguishing the landlord and the tenant’s responsibilities regarding their rental unit); landlords or their rental agent not monitoring their property at least once a month to see if any problems exist which need to be addressed.
Same question for private homes/commercial properties?
Answer: Vacant properties/foreclosures, bankruptcies and estates. People who move out in a moment’s notice and leave everything, including pets! The property is usually lien to the max with equity loans, etc. beyond the property’s value. Therefore banks do not foreclose and the property could sit for years waiting for some type of action to be taken. Upkeep becomes a problem, therefore the city takes action, such as cutting grass, boarding broken windows and putting a lien on the property to try and make quality of life for the existing neighbors tolerable during this time.
How often do you take people to court for housing code violations? And who are the biggest offenders, landlords, residents, or commercial property owners?
Answer: Every single week, it is fairly equal all the way around.
What are the most common violations?
Answer: Property Maintenance issues.
Are there one or more areas of the City that has more housing code violations than any other?
Answer: West side of town – this is mainly because of density in this region.
What do you think needs to be done to improve housing in Gloucester City? (Example increase the rental fees; hire more inspectors, stricter laws passed…)
Answer: I truly believe it is as easy as this – more community pride on an individual level, and what I mean by that is just being responsible for property upkeep on your home. Being courteous and respectful to your neighbors, keep them in mind, remember they are also being affected by ignoring your responsibilities as a resident. We have a great community that we all live in.
Any closing thoughts?
Answer: There are some great people in our community involved in groups that can help you if you are in tough times. They can’t solve all problems, but they may be able to help out – all you have to do is ask.
*Neither property is owned by the City of Gloucester City