Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't Ever Rent an Apartment to This Man!

This is a public service announcement for landlords in Newark, NY and its environs -- if this shows up at your open house or attempts to rent your apartment, RUN!
He looks like an attorney in his crisp gray suit, white shirt and red patterned tie. Not only does he dress the part, Mark Newton knows the law. In fact, an exhaustive Star-Ledger review of his court filings shows that for at least 19 years he has made Superior, chancery, federal and municipal courtrooms his virtual offices, representing himself in hundreds of court battles — though he has no license to practice law. His specialty? Avoiding eviction. And he is relentlessly effective. Interviews with landlords and neighbors and an examination of court documents provide a portrait of a man waging an almost continual war of attrition, fighting one eviction after another for years on end, filing lawsuits, complaints, subpoenas, asking for judge recusals and seeking postponements. He sometimes has multiple cases going simultaneously in different courts, always acting pro se, meaning he is his own "lawyer." Neighbors, judges, landlord’s family members and attorneys all have found themselves in Newton’s crosshairs. If there is a more active pro se litigant in New Jersey, no one has heard of it. Mark Newton is the pro se king. "He learned to work the system in such a way that he could take me to several different courts,’’ said Karyn Stewart, who claims she spent $5,000 in attorney fees trying to evict Newton. "There’s probably not a landlord in Essex County who doesn’t know Mark Newton. Somebody has got to put a stop to him.’’ The Newton system, according to court documents and dozens of interviews with adversaries, goes something like this: The 51-year old Newark man moves his family into an apartment or house, and soon stops paying rent. He then complains about unsavory living conditions that, landlords say, he created. At some point, his attack escalates and conditions in the rented apartment or house worsen, lawyers and landlords say. Newton continues to complain. Next, lawyers and landlords say, he calls code enforcement and accuses landlords of renting substandard housing.
According to to the Star-Ledger, Mark hasn't paid a cent in rent for the past 19 years. Records from landlord- tenant court show he and his wife have fought at least seven evictions, filing 113 complaints against landlords, neighbors and others in Newark municipal court — some of them multiple complaints against the same person. Most, if not all, were either dismissed or the person they complained about was found not guilty. And, according to landlords, Mark moves into a apartment then destroys the unit by breaking windows, chiseling holes, pouring water into the oil tank for the boiler, caused flooding by clogging up the toilet with rags, and removed washers from pipes underneath the sink to create more leaks. He even attacked a landlord during an inspection of his apartment. This bastard needs to be in jail.
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