FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. -- For months, Jenny Tisdale paid rent for her Franklin Lakes apartment to a man she thought was her landlord.
Now the single mom is terrified that she and her daughter will be locked out by the actual landlord before both can find an affordable place to live.
Tisdale said the man, Daniel McNamara, 49, quietly moved out of his next-door unit Christmas night -- nearly a month after records show a judge in Hackensack ordered the premises vacated.
The problem: The second unit where McNamara lived was illegal. So the eviction covers the entire house.
McNamara's whereabouts weren't immediately known.
Originally from Ramsey, the onetime baseball coach "rented" the ranch-style, side-by-side apartment to Tisdale in August.
She said she gave him a deposit and was paying rent on time when she got a text saying that she and her 15-year-old daughter had to be out before the end of December.
Tisdale said she went to Franklin Lakes police, who discovered that McNamara wasn't the landlord.
She said she "made some calls and located the actual owner," hoping to negotiate a new lease.
The real landlord is an out-of-state, 96-year-old Word War II veteran, said Tisdale, who turned to an attorney to try and negotiate with him.
"I also found a bulky return-to-sender envelope in the mailbox," Tisdale said. "When I opened it, I realized it was another victim -- a single mom with a very sick child.
"I pulled the entire court docket jacket: [McNamara]hasn't paid his own rent since June. So he without a doubt planned to rob us when I rented from him in August."
McNamara said Tisdale inaccurately and unfairly characterized him.
"First of all, there was no impersonating. I leased the home and sub-leased as landlord," he told Daily Voice. "I never once said I was the owner.
"Second of all, the 2 br 1 bath apartment in the main section of [the] single family home in Franklin Lakes was listed to rent for $1,800/month," McNamara said. "She came to me and was looking for $900/month. I said it was impossible. But she basically conned me with her single mother [story], etc.
"So, I rented it for $1,100/month.
"I explained what a good deal she was getting and I needed the payments on time -- and she never paid on time," McNamara said. "Then she started complaining about the cable.
"Because of the low rent, I was unable to keep up the payments and tried to work out w/landlord," McNamara said. "I was sending him payments every month what I could.
"She was an unbearable tenant who let her dog, whom she said was part-time but was actually there all the time, go to the bathroom all over the lawn and never cleaned up.
"I wished that you would have checked into her first."
Tisdale said he's lying.
"I have every bank check that I paid on time," she said.
She said she walked her dog while McNamara had a dog that he "let loose all the time" and left behind for days.
"He had it listed on Craigslist for $900 but conned me into $1,100," Tisdale said. "He listed two ways -- one for $900 total and another with $400 for the small bedroom and $500 for the large bedroom."
After they met, she said, he increased the asking price to $1,100, which she said she agreed to.
"He drew up the lease and behaved like a landlord," the Radburn native said. "He lived here and appeared to be the owner. There was no reason to think otherwise."
A week or so ago, Tisdale said, McNamara jumped out from behind a parked car in the dark and demanded rent -- as well as a late fee.
"I told him I already took care of it with the real landlord, and told him his name," she said. "The next I know, he had a moving truck parked on my front lawn. He snuck out in the dark of night on Christmas!"
Tisdale said she hadn't received a reply from the actual landlord to her offer to take over the lease and expects a sheriff's officer will knock on her door Jan. 8, forcing her and her daughter out.
"I'm not technically a tenant, so I have no tenants' rights," she said.
"It's hard finding a two-bedroom apartment for what I can afford," added Tisdale, an EMT who was seriously injured when a suicidal woman pulled her off a building with her.
She's seeking permanent disability.
"I have a punctured spinal cord at my C7, along with other multiple injuries," Tisdale said. "I also fall into a social services donut hole: I make too much for federal assistance and too little for rental assistance. That's a huge problem.
"A homeless shelter won't take a family with a physical handicap. So it's literally the street for us."
After a week, a GoFundMe campaign launched by Tisdale had raised a little over $700 of a $4,000 goal -- set to help pay a month and a half security, at least, along with the first month's rent on a new place.
"I like I fell down a rabbit hole," she said. "I'm up the creek without a paddle."
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