A husband and father of two newborn babies — who asked to remain unidentified out of fear — could barely keep his composure when describing the tough decisions he now needs to make.
He’s no longer working, so with little to no income to support his family, he’s asking his landlord for leniency. But his landlord is refusing to negotiate.
“Me working primarily changed the 18th of the month, and like I said we were not rich. I don’t want to say we were living paycheck to paycheck, but if you want to put it in technical terms we were living two paychecks to paychecks. I lived there for four years, and for four years I never had a late payment. It’s not like we had thousands of dollars left over at the end of the month, we barely had $500 left over after we paid all the bills and the rent. So that’s why I was explaining to the landlord, if we could just split it up a little bit without any late fees or repercussions. What I got in return was you have until the fifth of the month,” he said.
While Gov. Phil Murphy warned that any landlord who tries to evict a tenant during the pandemic faces consequences, this tenant is now worried about what happens after the crisis is over. That’s because the complex’s management company is adding substantial late fees to a rent payment he already cannot make.
‘It feels like it’s price gouging’
“If you’re having a hard time paying the rent, now they add on more money on top of there. It feels like it’s price gouging,” he said. “I felt there is some injustice happening, not just New Jersayans, all Americans. We are living in a hard time right now and a lot of people are going through a lot of things.”
He says he tried looking for additional resources and assistance to solve his problem, but realized that there were no laws in place to help him.
“I went on the internet, I tried to find out the different changes that happened, statewise new regulations put in. There was nothing to really protect the renters. The only thing that was said was by Gov. Murphy when he said ‘with my help, with the banks, to defer mortgage payments for you, landlords. I expect you guys to work with your renters.’ We’re all going through a hard time, so I think this is the best time to show compassion and understanding, not to try to gain profit from these bad times,” he said.
He said he now hopes the governor will pass legislation that protects tenants like himself in these positions during and after the pandemic ends.