Kilkenny, Labrecque and Lane.
Plaintiff landlord sued defendant tenant in the County district court for possession of a four-room apartment on the fifth floor of a ten-family apartment building at 1312 Washington Street, in Hoboken. Suit was based upon the nonpayment of $200 in rent allegedly due on May 1, 1970. There was a judgment for possession entered on May 12, 1970 and defendant appeals therefrom.
Defendant had rented this apartment on November 22, 1969 at a monthly rental of $70. From the time he moved in defendant had observed that there was a problem with the water pressure. He testified:
There was no running water for most of the time. * * * [V]ery often I couldn't draw any water for a bath. Very often I would wake up in the morning and there was no water in the toilet from flushing from the previous night.
Defendant complained to Mr. Newman, a principal of plaintiff, but he testified that he received no remedial action.
On February 23, 1970 defendant registered a complaint with the board of health or plumbing inspector. An inspector came to the premises on a number of subsequent occasions. Whether the repairs were made was disputed.
Defendant and his roommate, Ronald Hine, work for a voluntary organization called "Self-Help," whose purpose is to aid people with tenancy and welfare problems. On February 24, 1970 they organized and participated in a tenants' meeting in plaintiff's building. Since the great majority of the families residing in these premises are Spanish-speaking, they made up notices of the meeting in Spanish. The meeting was held in their apartment. They testified that 15 adult persons attended, but Newman stated there were 30. Perhaps the difference is due to the presence of children of some of the tenants. The following day Newman came to their apartment and advised them that there would be no more meetings in their apartment; that it was against fire regulations.
The court found that proper notice had been served upon defendant on April 1, 1970 which increased his rent from $70 to $200 monthly. The landlord's alleged reason for the increase was "rising expenses, taxes, insurance, water, fuel and maintenance costs." Of the other nine tenants in this building only one other tenant received a rental increase notice, and that was from $80 to $100 monthly.
A "final" notice of the existence of a nuisance was received by Mr. Newman from the Department of Health. The notice was dated April 16, 1970, a date subsequent to the rental increase notice.
Defendant has tendered $70 as rent for each month subsequent to April 1970, which tender has been refused by plaintiff. When the increased rental of $200 was not paid on May 1, 1970 dispossess proceedings were immediately instituted by plaintiff landlord and judgment for possession was granted on May 12, 1970, as first noted above.
N.J.S.A. 2A:18-59 provides:
Proceedings had by virtue of this article shall not be appealable except on the ground of ...