Former councilman Julio Tavarez has been cited for allegedly renting an illegal dwelling at his 16th Avenue property.
Tavarez was cited for 227 16th Avenue on December 28, 2021. He allegedly converted the basement into a dwelling without obtaining plumbing, electrical, and building permits.
A text message shows Tavarez on December 10, 2021 told the tenant she had to move out of the space. Tavarez wanted to give the apartment to his ex-wife as he finalizes his divorce, read the text.
Tavarez could not be reached for comments on Wednesday.
The tenant, who did not want her name to be used in this story, said she has a lease agreement for the apartment that’s signed by Tavarez. She has been living at the basement for a year and five months.
She was paying approximately $1,200 per month in rent.
Tavarez allegedly removed the heaters from the apartment to force her out of the basement, said the tenant.
“He’s wrong and he’s foul and messed up. It’s not right. He has no right doing this to anybody,” said the tenant.
The 26-year-old tenant said she lives by herself at the apartment and is fearful what else Tavarez might do. She said she filed a police report after the heaters were removed from the apartment.
Councilman Luis Velez, who represents the area where the house is located, bought her two heaters after he learned about the situation.
“It’s sad that a former councilman that knows the rules and regulations of our city has to be an illegal actor in our city and put people’s lives at the risk,” said Velez on Wednesday. “It’s unacceptable in my ward. It’s unacceptable in Paterson.”
Tavarez will have to answer for the violation at the Paterson Municipal Court. He could be on the hook to cover the tenant’s relocation expenses.
“He knew it was illegal to rent that apartment to that young lady,” said political activist Ernest Rucker. “He went into her apartment without her being there.”
Rucker said Tavarez allegedly offered the tenant $3,000 to get her out of the apartment.
Tavarez served as a councilman for two terms. He became the first Dominican American to be the president of the City Council. He was also censured by his colleagues with a vote of no confidence for making alleged divisive remarks in a Spanish radio broadcast. He filed a defamation suit over the no confidence measure that was later dismissed.
Tavarez was a close ally and friend of mayor Andre Sayegh. Sayegh did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
“It’s disgrace to say he’s a former councilman,” said Velez.