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Malden, Medford Tenants Band Together To Combat Rent Hikes

Tenants in Medford and Malden are working together to combat rent hikes implemented by a Boston real estate firm, the Boston Globe reports.

Shortly after purchasing 248 units for $23.5 million in April 26, Allston-based Alpha Management began implementing 20 to 30 percent more rent for its tenants. The rent hikes are set to go into effect June 1.

According to the tenants, Alpha began slipping notices under tenants’ doors, outlining the rent increases. Alpha employees also reportedly knock on tenants’ doors at all hours of the day to collect signatures for renewed leases. Many residents felt intimidated by the intrusions. “I feel unsafe,” 50-year-old tenant Damon Syphers said.

Alpha owner Anwar Faisal has defended the rent increases, stating they place the rental rates at fair-market or slightly below it. He also claimed that the rates are negotiable. “I want to give every tenant a fair shot,” Faisal said. “They submit the application; we start negotiating.”

Tenants of the buildings have formed a coalition called Medford/Malden Tenants United to help stop the hikes. The group has held several meetings and plans to negotiate with Alpha as a single voice.

Generally, tenants have certain rights that protect them from harassment, discrimination, or unfair treatment by landlords. However, there may be little recourse for some of the tenants, according to city housing officials.

Many of the residents never signed a lease or let their leases lapse, making them tenants at-will. A tenancy at will is terminable at the will of the landlord or tenant as the statutory requirements for notice are met. This means that the landlord could hike up the rent, leaving the resident with no choice but to pay it or move out.

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson plans to meet with Alpha Management and Medford/Malden Tenants United to discuss a possible rent extension. “Turning someone’s life upside down in 30 days, to me, we should look if there is a different way,” Christenson said.

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