Sunday, October 15, 2017

Illegal Conversions of Residential Buildings

Notice to Property Owners  - Plainfield Will No Longer Tolerate the Illegal Conversion of a Home or Apartment Building to Add New Apartments that Are Not Permitted by Within Their Zone.

I saw with my own eyes the City condemning a home in the Crescent Avenue Historic District that was illegally converted into a four unit building.  The property owner did what so many have done before - adding apartments or just rooms for rent - in the basement or the attic or wherever they could be squeezed in - with little regard for zoning regulations, safety concerns or lack of parking. For many years, Plainfield City Hall was not up to the task of regulating residential conversions.

Not any more.  The building mentioned above is now vacant.  All tenants were relocated at the expense of the owner.  The owner has to come back to City Hall and propose how this building will be made compliant with our building codes and zoning ordinance.

The city has also hired an inspector to work on weekends to enforce our regulations for the weekend renovators who seek to do illegal conversions when the city is not watching.

Illegal conversions are bad for our city.  They are bad for the tenants who unwittingly rent unsafe apartments that have inadequate or no means of escape in the event of a fire.  Or whose plumbing or electrical wiring poses a health or safety problem. Tell tale signs of illegal conversions are a lot of mailboxes and/or PMUA trash receptacles at a residence that appears too small for so many people to warrant it. 

If you think there is an illegally occupied residence in your neighborhood, please contact the city inspections office at 908 753 3386 or public works directors office at 908 753 3375.  It wouldn't hurt to copy your City Council representatives either.  I am best reached at or

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