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These articles were prepared for the February 7,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Landlords and Tenants Square Off for Eviction
The volatile area of eviction and foreclosure seems
burdened with more than its share of conflicting mandates. Verbal
confrontation might lead to a physical ones. Legislators and their
muscle, the police, therefore will do anything to avoid
skull solutions and replace such confrontations with avenues less
Attorney Brian J. Mulligan insists that, if followed wisely,
New Jersey eviction laws are not a Byzantine unworkable labyrinth.
Mulligan will discuss the latest Supreme Court rulings and will unfold
eviction (and avoidance) strategies when he addresses an all day
of the National Business Institute on Thursday, February 8, at 8:30
a.m. at the Palmer Inn. Cost: $184. Call 609-989-5002.
Mulligan, 38, began as a tenant on the Isle of Manhattan later growing
up in north Jersey. A graduate of Temple University and Fordham Law
School, he has worked with Sterns & Weinroth in Trenton for the last
14 years. Mulligan and his partners handle the trials and tribulations
of several large-scale renting agencies for both residential and
properties. He has seen all the scams and knows all the foils.
Typically, Mulligan says, the entire eviction process runs swifter
and with less problem than thought. A tenant defaulting on only one
month’s rent entitles the landlord to file for a dispossess notice.
At this point the judge sets a short hearing date. There the landlord
merely testifies that the tenant hasn’t paid, and perhaps flops an
unpaid ledger before the court. "Usually, the tenant," says
Mulligan, "doesn’t have the money and won’t even show up at court.
Thus the Order to Dispossess is automatic."
The landlord then can serve the tenant with this notice. The notice
takes approximately two months to obtain, but once served, the tenant
has 10 days to vacate. If the tenant hides, the landlord simply turns
the Dispossess Order over to the county sheriff. "He very
will do your dirty work," says Mulligan.
But here’s where the tar gets sticky. On March 31 when the sheriff
finally shows up truncheon and Dispossess Order in hand, the tenant
can flash all, or in some cases even part of, January’s rent in his
face and the whole case fades away. All the notices, time, trips to
court for January’s rent don’s count. The landlord must begin efforts
totally anew to get February’s rent — which is already nearly
two months late!
"This chase can go on forever," says Mulligan. "Tenants
can feed in just enough money to keep the sheriff away and the
jumping to play catchup. The laws ever buy time for the tenants."
The tenant holds other arrows in his quiver which can stave off the
inevitable — some sensible, moral, and legal; some not.
to a trickle this month, see the landlord before the due date .
"Usually, all I need is some glimmer of hope that this month is
not the start of an endless cycle," says Cliff Newcomer, president
of Bordentown’s Lincoln Management Company, an apartment house
firm. This, alas, is the most obvious and least tried method.
this makes you liable for non-payment of rent with a plethora of
But your chance of being caught, as many tent-folding E-commerce firms
have learned, is not very high. "California," says Mulligan,
"is renowned for see-through buildings and unpaid landlords."
to some major condition, the renter can sue the landlord for cash
awards. This is not a rent strike, which is illegal. Nor can the flaw
be minor. A loose railing or peeling paint won’t cut it. No heat,
utilities, huge leaks or a foot-deep river of cockroaches might work
for a residence. Businesses might add noise or inadequate parking.
(A new Jazzercize gym tenant next door to one’s office has been known
building problems magically multiply when a tenant’s cash becomes
tight. We fought one tenant up in Bergen County who began suing his
landlord immediately after his contract with AT&T fell through. He
accused us of poor air quality, causing employee headaches, inadequate
heat, even poor kitchen facilities." But in the end Mulligan sued
for rent non-payment and won.
Mulligan and his client won because the landlords hold a not unworthy
arsenal on their side.
track not only of all meetings and conversations and the date your
tenant defaulted, but all those things you have done right — e.g.
each service call. Mulligan’s victory over the Bergen County renter
came when he was able to produce repair bills for each tenant
whether for non-payment, destruction or improper (tenant-disturbing)
behavior. Yet it doesn’t hurt to review the lease, particularly for
the behavior clauses. Time and the law stand also firmly on your side,
even if public sympathies may not.
chill through most tenants and sets them scrambling for cash. However,
pleads Mulligan, be very, very careful here. The law is not on your
side for anything more than a polite request. "In short,"
he says, "the landlord’s options for self-help in gaining his
rent are very limited." If you raise a hand, forcibly take office
furniture or turn off the heat, you can kiss your rent goodbye.
For commercial properties, the Order to Dispossess process works
the same. But Mulligan hastens to note that the commercial renter
should hope for much less judicial mercy. Settlements, while seldom
legally mandated, are frequent. Better some rent than none.
Condos entail a wealth of legal bindings and thus afford a wealth
of suits — most settled out of court. Typically, the condo owner
cannot and will not pay the fixed maintenance fee and the various
added improvement assessments. "It is worth the owner’s
says Mulligan, "to challenge such random assessments. Frequently
the top floor owners get charged for roof repair . . . the condo owner
owns only from the sheet rock in. She is not more or less responsible
for roof repair than the first floor resident."
Interestingly, the association can fine you $150 a day and more, but
they cannot evict an owner. It is, after all, yours; until of course
they put a lien on your dwelling.
Freedom of expression, the other source of condo association/owner
disputes is less likely to bend for the owner. You may want to put
up a clothesline, but, at the same time, you have, upon purchase,
granted your owners association the right to "make laws concerning
the esthetic environment."
Further, the state’s Department of Community Affairs has overseen
the association’s charter. Your odds of victory stretch as slim as
Mulligan reiterates that the process of evicting a truly deadbeat
tenant, while potentially frustrating, remains not at all impossible.
And generally, Justice remains blinder than many popular rumors would
have us believe.
A tenant can be evicted in mid-winter. No law affords seasonal amnesty
once the sheriff has the Dispossess Order. Typically, if the weather
is so miserable that even his deputies grumble about going out, he
may afford the delinquent tenant an extra day. But when the hurricane
blows over, out they go.
Age, number of children, physical and fiscal impairments will not
prevent eviction. It may, Mulligan notes, "sway the judge in
out a settlement, but it will not dispense with the debt." The
judge may refer a tenant with these problems to the Welfare Department
and rent assistance may be given. (If you are a landlord, and if the
state takes over responsibility for the rent, this could be a good
thing. The rent checks come straight from the state every month.)
Finally, the New Jersey State Supreme Court is reviewing, subject
to comment, several amendments to current renter/landlord legislation.
If favorably reviewed, all future renter/landlord settlements would
demand a certificate of settlement. "Basically," Mulligan
says, "this would demand that each party’s lawyer demonstrate
how he earned his fee when the renter and landlord settle. This way
the loser, frequently stuck with the court costs, would not be subject
to an unfair price gouge."
Impressive: a law that gives equal benefit and protection to both
landlord and renter. Seems as if Justice, while blind, has a little
heart after all.
— Bart Jackson
There was a time when data storage meant finding that
one guy who had been with the company 50 years, and having him root
around in the basement until he emerged, dusty and triumphant, holding
the right file, but from the wrong year. Those dreaded words, "The
system? It’s all up here," accompanied by a tap of the forehead,
struck fear into many hearts back then. Marvin Parker, general
manager of DocuSafe in Robbinsville, says that data storage and
retrieval systems have come a long way since then. He will speak on
his company’s capabilities at the Princeton Council on Thursday,
8, at 8 a.m. at the Princeton Hyatt.
"It’s a lot more than just storage," Parker says. "Yes,
we are a commercial record archive data storage center. But our
is that is we store, pick-up, and deliver. Our advanced computer
tracks every item’s history. We can tell you when an item was
placed, when it was taken out, by which department of your company,
and when it was returned. We can issue you a tracking report. We’ve
done time studies that show we can find any document and hold it for
you in about six minutes. We can scan the barcodes of the shelving,
the items, and see that it’s Box 345, and go right to it."
DocuSafe, a division of the moving company Bohren’s, has been around
for 13 years. In addition to the site in Robbinsville, there is also
a facility in Florida. Its customers range from Fortune 100s to
small businesses. Items come in a variety of forms: paper records,
microfilm, microfiche, VHS tapes, DLT (very high density) tapes, DAT
tapes, and optical disks.
In the Princeton area, quite a lot of business comes from the clinical
research organizations (CROs), and the pharmaceutical organizations.
"So much of their data truly is critical, for legal purposes,"
Parker explains. "If you put a drug on the market, you want to
know that you have the back-up information that supports all of the
research, and you want to be able to pull it out if there’s ever a
court case. The CROs can show what their tests shows, the studies.
And they can show that they are diligent by saying it’s in a fireproof
vault. Most of the CROs in the area use our vault. We also have a
lot of medical records. X-rays are being stored in the vault."
Parker offers these tips if you are looking to store your critical
new 120,000 square foot building, just a little over a year ago. We
had the facility specifically designed for what we do. Most of our
competitors are using older, general all-purpose buildings. Ours is
designed just for record storage. It is designed to be seismically
solid — most people don’t realize that central New Jersey is
a seismic zone 2. The shelving’s also seismically engineered, and
will meet fire codes everywhere in the United Sates. This is always
a concern after the 1997 Iron Mountain fire, which burned up a million
and a half boxes."
use the only true fireproof vault on the market today — the
Data security vault. The insulating core of the Firelock wall is filed
with the same material used in the heat-shielding tile on the NASA
space shuttle. It will not burn, and it is completely inert. It
no moisture, so no moisture will enter the vault chamber if there
were a fire."
The traditional concrete vault is porous and contains water, he says,
so if there’s a fire, the moisture will wick to the interior as steam
at 212 degrees.
Parker’s fire suppression system uses FM 200 in contrast to other
gases that were unsafe to breathe and damaging to the environment.
"FM 200 is the same gas as is used in an asthma inhaler. It leaves
no residue to damage anything, and reacts chemically to the fire to
keep it from burning."
which is a high density storage medium, is said by the manufacturer
to last for five years before it begins to degrade. "If you store
that tape in our vault, which is temperature and humidity controlled
— always 30 percent humidity and 68 degrees — we will extend
that life to 15 years."
"Our vault is magnetically shielded as well. There is a
control panel: thermostat and a humidistat and a chart encoder that
charts temperature and humidity 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
52 weeks a year. Clients can pull those charts if they need to prove
that their materials are being kept properly — with the date
on the chart.
manned and alarmed. We have outdoor perimeter cameras, and indoor
security cameras. Everyone signs in; no one gets in to the archive
without being accompanied. All access has to be authorized by
What’s to prevent an imposter from driving up with a truck and forging
a signature? "We must be notified in advance if you are coming
in personally, instead of having us deliver."
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) tells what the standards
are and does studies on the most modern storage systems. Both ARMA
(Association of Records Management Administrators) and PRISM
Records and Information Services Management) fund such studies.
Parker, who has worked for DocuSafe for five years, admits that not
all the data stored in the archives is high-tech. "We have clients
who stored just one box — the original manuscript to the book
they have written. And until recently we had all the records of the
Pullman company. The whole company history back to the Civil War —
old leather bound hand-written ledgers. They are now in a museum.
But today, you have to do a whole lot more than just storage. You
need to do a lot of management. Once the clients understand our
they really use it."
— David McDonough
Artists fall into any number of subcategories. They
may be operatic tenors, banjo players, sculptors, poets specializing
in the epic form, dancers, or mimes. But whatever the specialty,
the talent, most artists have one thing in common. Most also are
To succeed, most artists need to market their work, a thing that is
hardly distinct from themselves.
On the whole, however, artists hate the idea that they are in
says Susan Schear, owner of Artisin, an Oradell, New
business that teaches artists how to market themselves. Schear, along
with Pat Kettenring, director of Rutgers’ Business and the Arts
division, leads a series of seminars to help artists develop effective
business personas. Sponsored by Mercer County Community College and
held at the Urban Word Cafe in Trenton, "How to Market Yourself
and Your Art," the first of three seminars on the subject is
February 10, at 9 a.m. Cost: $10 for one session, $25 for all three.
Schear, a graduate of Rutgers (Class of 1978), started her business
in 1995. A former account manager for Waterford Crystal, Schear had
many friends in the arts. "I realized every time I talked with
them I was helping," by passing along suggestions for marketing
that came from her corporate experience. "I realized there was
Artists, says Schear, find it difficult to focus on their work as
a business. "Their passion is to get the work out," she says.
And while marketing an ability to write a soaring musical score, or
to capture a sunset in watercolors, has much in common with selling
widgets, there are key differences.
Most would-be business owners go out and assess the market before
developing a product, Schear says, but an artist can’t think of the
market when she is creating. The work generally comes first, and the
marketing needs to follow. Schear gives this marketing advice to
designed clothes, often for brides and their bridesmaids. "She
told me she wants to use silk," Schear recounts. The artist likes
the feel and look of silk, but has had some pressure from clients
who want her to use polyester instead. "Part of how you will be
known is that you work in silk, not polyester," Shear says of
the advice she gave this client.
Establishing a persona is important for an artist, Schear says, and
may involve saying no to performing in a certain venue, selling for
too low a price, or taking on a project that does not feel right.
but "what does that mean?" Schear asks. It is important that
artists define what success means to them. It may be making enough
to work full time as an artist, or consistently selling pieces of
sculpture for $1,000, or playing Carnegie Hall. Whatever the goals,
it is important to write them down and to be specific.
that inevitably comes to all artists, Schear says, is to think about
why a person buys — or does not buy — art. Most often, she
says, it is not personal. "They may not have the money," Shear
says of potential customers. "They may not have the background
to appreciate the art, it may the wrong color or size, they may not
like the frame." The number of reasons for a turndown are
"Who is your competition?" is a question Schear asks artists.
While they most frequently cite other artists, she says, the truth
is that "Blockbuster Video is your competitor, the Super Bowl
is your competitor."
may never sell to the corporate market, Schear says. And artists who
play jazz may never find a warm reception at venues that cater to
18 year olds. Knowing which audiences will be most receptive to your
art is the key to marketing wisely. In doing this research, think
of the whole range of possible customers, Schear says, ticking off
"juried shows, restaurants, street fairs, colleges, public
studios, architects, very high end florists or salons." Even
offices could be possible targets. Those nudes that local corporations
reject could well find a home in doctors’ offices, Schear suggests.
through performance tape or portfolio, should be well thought out,
carefully crafted, and cohesive, Schear says. This advice applies
to websites, too. Artists who want to promote their work worldwide,
sell online, or offer galleries an easy way to see their art could
benefit from a website. Schear cautions, however, that websites need
to fit into an overall marketing plan, using the same style and logo
as other materials, and probably should be designed by a professional.
— Kathleen McGinn Spring
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