“We’ve got to stop this foolishness!”
According to the Omaha Police Officers Association, in September of 2014, the Omaha City Council wanted to draft a new law to put pressure on absentee landlords who keep their properties in despair…
But Attorney John Chatelain, president of the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association, called the proposal, “harebrained!” Chatelain’s take on promoting clean, safe neighborhoods is vital to his clients like the owner of Fontenelle Realty, Gregory Johnson. Johnson is notorious for allowing trash and debris to pile up and clutter his rental properties, causing safety hazards in neighborhoods throughout the community. The City of Omaha has lost count on how many citations have been issued, warning Johnson to fix violation after violation or else. The threats of fines carry about as much weight as a leaf in the Fall to Johnson, knowing Attorney Chatelain is on speed dial ready to deal with the City and any other type of legal matter.
Whether fiction or nonfiction, every good story with shiesty characters has a hero that swoops in and saves the community. In the case of The Fontenelle Realty Mob, there are several different heroes to the rescue to save tenants from Chatelain and his band of sleazy slumlords and unruly umlords. After the Yale Apartments were shut down on September 20, 2018 and deemed uninhabitable, over 500 families were displaced. Authorities had found over 2500 code violations including carbon monoxide leaks, lice, maggots and bedbugs. Now the City of Omaha officials are looking into requiring landlords to register with the city and agree to regular inspections of their rental property. But John Chatelain, who feels promoting clean, safe neighborhoods is a “harebrained” scheme said that while the Yale Park situation is “very difficult,” his group’s board would oppose a citywide registry and inspection of all rental properties in Omaha. “That would be quite an overreach,” he said, adding that no matter the requirements, “you won’t eliminate difficult cases.”
To Council President Ben Gray, MOPOA’s concerns are about as important to him as fool’s gold to a jeweler. “I’m through playing nice with this,” he said. Mr. Gray has vowed that regardless to what MOPOA plans to oppose, no nonsense laws will be negotiated where slumlords such as Gregory Johnson will have to register with the city. “We have to stop this,” Gray said. “This is ridiculous.” When comparing the Yale Apartments’ situation with property owned by Fontenelle Realty, several agencies found that there was very little difference.
“We’ve got to stop this foolishness,” Ben Gray said. “You have a right to own property, but you also have an obligation to keep your property up.”
Meanwhile, Omaha Tenants Unite, a new group of heroes in town is a living nightmare for MOPOA . Although you can go on Omaha Tenants United’s facebook page for information on their group, each month members go door to door of rental houses and apartment buildings handing out fliers and asking tenants questions about their living conditions and whether or not the landlord is giving them fair treatment. “ And while it is of course the immediate aim of OTU to organize tenants in order to help them take on their landlords, improve their living conditions, and take greater control over their lives, this is only one small portion of a broader political project,” a statement made by the group.
Once Omaha Tenants United has a legit complaint against a slumlord, they are like bloodhounds tracking a new scent in the wild. There’s no stopping them! They gather in full force, along with the tenant, and confront the landlord with a list of dos and don’ts, backed up with law to get the justice that is needed. And watching OTU in action is more exciting than running with the bulls through the streets of Mexico, which will put an end to Chatelain and the Fontenelle Realty Mob running their bull through the streets of Omaha, until such registry laws are passed.
Up to date OTU has an unblemished, remarkable success record that would earn them a gold medal, if such awards were given in a marathon race to wipeout slumlords throughout Nebraska. One of their biggest victories was against the owner of Landmark Group and Dino’s Storage, the infamous Dave Paladino, whose motto is, ‘There’s Slumlords, and then there’s Me and My Crew.’ (Go to https://m.facebook.com/omahaTenanatsUnited/ to read the entire story about OTU putting Paladino in his place.) “Our points of Unity establish the basic purpose and ideology behind Omaha Tenants United,” the group said. “We welcome anyone who accepts our principles to join us in our struggle against landlords in Omaha in order to help us build working class power,” (to view the list of principles go to aforementioned link.)
The Heartland News has joined forces with Omaha Tenants United, to help put an end to Fontenelle Realty’s scam, and other slumlords throughout Nebraska. First up on the agenda is, to file a complaint with the Nebraska State Bar Association against Attorney John Chatelain for the illegal rental lease he enforces for the Fontenelle Realty Mob. The outcome of the complaint will be the main topic of Part 4 of Fontenelle Realty’s Scam to keep long term tenants. (View the illegal lease, as well as Part One and Part Two of Fontenelle Realty’s Scam to keep long term tenants in prior posts here on our website.)
Know what protection you have when you and your landlord get into a dispute
Here are 7 Things You Should Know About Tenant Rights, courtesy of Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate.
1. Federal law protects against civil rights violations in housing. The Housing Act dictates that no landlord can refuse housing to a potential tenant based on race, nationality, sex familial status, religion or disability.
2. Many of your tenant rights are spelled out in state or local laws. In a situation where you feel you’re being treated unfairly for any reason check with your state’s law on tenant and landlord rights. For the most part, tenants’ rights fall under the jurisdiction of the state or local government.
3. You have a right to livable conditions. All tenants have a right to be provided with a space considered habitable-including working plumbing, electricity and heat. Beyond these basic details, it varies by state how a landlord is required to provide them and what tenants may do when their needs are not met.
4. You have to pay rent. Landlords have a right to pursue eviction when they stop receiving rent, regardless of the reason. Some state or local laws will allow landlords to lower the cost of rent or prorate rent for the number of days a unit is unlivable. However, you cannot refuse to pay rent to provoke your landlord to perform maintenance or other duties.
5. The lease you sign doesn’t supersede the law. In many cases, landlords may be unaware of the specifics of tenant and landlord rights or they may try to take advantage of the fact that you don’t know your rights. If you sign a lease that includes rules that violate tenant’s rights, the fraudulent policies cannot be enforced by landlord or law.
6. You should document everything. No one moves into a new apartment planning to get into a fight with their landlord, but it’s best to be prepared for the possibility.
There are countless tenant rights organizations throughout the country to ensure renters have access to the resources and understand the privilege afforded to them by law.