I have lived in Montclair for over 50 years. I am a 75-year-old man dependent on the rent from my downstairs apartment to stay in my house and age in place. My tenant, who is a professional, has become a squatter. He already owes me more than $10,000 from failure to pay his rent.

I have filed an eviction notice registered by the court on Dec. 5, 2022, but my lawyer tells me it can take a year for the Essex County courts to hear the case. In fact, as of Jan. 14, the court had not even fully processed the eviction filing and had not sent an appropriate certified notice to my tenant.  

In the meantime, I am being placed in my own financial crises – plus the anxiety of having to live in the same house with the tenant.   

Montclair’s council is concerned and has passed tenant protections, but what remedies are there when the protections are abused and threaten seniors staying in their own homes? Why is there no accessible and prompt protection from someone who is using the system to essentially steal? What is being done about the dysfunctional court system in Essex County that permits someone to abuse the legal system?  

I am not the only residential landlord who has this problem. If our township is concerned about tenant protections, we should also be concerned about protecting our many neighbors who depend on a rental to continue to live in Montclair.

Gerald Fierst