Landlord troubles in Lyndon

St Johsbury- Frederick (Rick) Schwag, a landlord in Lyndon , was once again a no show in court Monday. Schwag, along with the town of Lyndon, is being sued by tenant Jeremy Hannan.

Hannan currently rents an apartment at 427 Main St. in Lyndon, where Schwag has not been paying the water bill. According to the law suite, Schwag currently owes the town $19,716.28 for a water bill that remains unpaid. Hannan says that he pays water as a part of his rent, which is paid for by the Vermont Housing Authority.  


 During the hearing it was discussed that as a result of the unpaid bill, the town has shut off water to Hannan’s apartment twice. Most recently, Hannan provided the town with a doctor's note stating that he needed the water turned back on for medical reasons. The town turned the water back on, however that might not last long. All of this resulted in Hanan filing a lawsuit against the town and Schwag alleging that having the water shut off violates his rights and causes irreparable harm. 


During the hearing on March 20th 2023 between Hannan, the town of Lyndon and Schwag, Schwag did not show up. This is a recurring issue, as as described by the court, Schwag is notoriously hard to get in contact with or speak to. During the hearing it was mentioned that the apartment building had high usage that Schwags was aware of, however no one knows what is causing the high usage. The high usage in question is resulting in 100,000 gallons of water lost per quarter. According to Lyndonville assistant town clerk Denise Montgomery, no other property that she is aware of in the town is using that much water. 


Tim Angell, Assistant State Fire Marshal, has visited the property 12 times since 2016, at the request of the tenants for multiple safety and health violations. Angell described the state of the building as being in a “Low fair, to poor range.” Angell also described Schwag as “difficult to reach”, and “uncooperative”, in addressing issues. One of the apartment units at 427 Main St, was condemned due fire safety violations. Once condemned, the water was shut off to that unit. 


According to Hannan, Schwag has not been very responsive in fixing problems that arise, and was described as a “repeat offender”, by Angell. Schwag had requested that the town replace the water meter to see if that would fix the problem, but it did not. After that, Schwag has been scarcely heard from. According to the court both Hannan and the town of Lyndon have made multiple, unsuccessful attempts to reach him. 


According to judge Richardson Daniel, the next step is to figure out where the High usage is occurring. According to judge Daniel there are three issues with the case; not having water causes irreparable harm to the tennant, bills need to be paid and the town should not have to supply free water to someone who is not paying, and lastly that there be an order that all units be open to a full state inspection, according to Daniels something Schwag has not been responding to. The third issue requires the tenants to agree to allow the inspectors into their units, something Hannan says they are all willing to do.