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August 2012 Archives

Rents North of Boston Up 9 Percent in 5 Years; Rent Control Needed?

If there's one thing that a recession does, especially when there is a housing crisis, it's to increase rent. In the communities north of Boston, rents increased by 8.9% to an average of $1,427, while vacancy rates dropped from 7.8% to 4% in the same amount of time, according to the Boston Globe.

These factors have led to a shortage of housing for low- to moderate-income renters, reports the Globe. If this trend continues, should Boston or other locales reconsider rent control or rent stabilization?

Here's the Dirt on MA's New Mulch Fire-Safety Regulation

It's one of those things that happens every so often: There's a new safety regulation set to take effect Saturday for building owners in Massachusetts. Even if you are a tenant, it is good to know the safety regulations because it is a landlord's duty to keep a building up to code.

The issue that sparked the new state regulation was a rash of fires that tore through large buildings. A 2008 fire in Peabody was caused by a discarded cigarette that ignited mulch near an apartment building. The fire displaced 800 people and caused $6.7 million in damage, according to the Boston Globe.

Parking Bans for College Move-In; Students Have Tenant Rights Too

It's the bane of every Bostonian's late August and early September — college move in weekend. Of course, move-in is longer than a weekend because the schools all have different dates allowing students to move into their housing, and then there are those moving into the off-campus apartments on September 1st.

There's even at least one song about it by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

This week and weekend are move-in days so parking bans have started in Allston Brighton, Back Bay, Fenway-Kenmore, and Roxbury, and will be in effect until Tuesday September 4th, according to Boston.com. Be sure to check the link to see exactly what streets, although the city is recommending drivers avoid those neighborhoods.

Move-in reminds us that even though the glut of students is at times frustrating, they do still have the same rights as any other tenant.

Neighborly Tree Dispute Making You Want to 'Leave'?

Besides bad puns, there are plenty of reasons that neighbors get into fights over our oxygen-producing, shade-giving friends. Sure there are simple quarrels about fallen leaves on a lawn, but then there are more serious neighborly tree disputes that can arise when roots damage a driveway or dead limbs hang over your kid's swingset.

As with most conflicts, these issues can be taken care of with a few moments of communication between neighbors. This communication is most effective when you know exactly what the law governs when it comes to trees.

Here are some common tree disputes that arise among neighbors:

New Foxborough Parking Law Will Force Pats Fans to Pay More

It may have been your secret when you went to a Pats game or a concert at Gillette stadium: You could park at a nearby resident's house for far less than what it cost to park at the stadium itself.

However, just in time for this weekend's New England Country Music festival, Foxborough has enacted a bylaw that forbids residents from charging for parking in their yards during events at the stadium, according to The Sun Chronicle. But officials have said they will not start enforcing the new Foxborough parking law until the Patriots' home opener against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 16.

How can the town do this?

Hull Sues Gail Kansky to Stop Bird-Feeding 'Nuisance'

There are many people who love to watch birds. The National Audubon Society was created specifically to preserve ecosystems so that birds and other wildlife will still exist for people to see.

However, it seems as though Hull resident Gail Kansky has gone beyond helping birds to creating an alleged nuisance in her neighborhood, according to the Patriot Ledger. Neighbors have complained of the noise, bird droppings, and rats that have started to move in.

How bad does it have to get to become a nuisance?

How to Get a Copy of Your Deed in the City of Boston

The deed to your property is an important, yet easily misplaced or forgotten document. The reason a deed is so easily forgotten is because it is only needed when you are buying or selling a house, or if there is a dispute regarding property lines. Luckily, the Registry of Deeds always has an official record of your deed if you can't find your copy.

And wouldn't you know, there have been recent attempts by private companies to try and sell you a copy of your deed at a cost of between $69 and $86, according to Boston.com and the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds. However, the cost and difficulty of getting your deed are far lower than what these companies charge.

As the Housing Crisis Continues, a Guide to Surviving Foreclosure

Although Massachusetts has not been hit as hard as California, Nevada, or Florida with the number of foreclosures, there are still many more than in the past. With the economy only slowly ticking upward and the housing market still languishing for sellers, it's more difficult than ever to avoid the potential for the worst.

This is why FindLaw has put together a mini-guide dealing with how to avoid or survive foreclosure proceedings. The guide provides you with helpful information as well as links to sites where you can find more information or contact a lawyer.

Landlord Claims Building Super Stole from Tenants in Malden

Does it always seems like it’s the landlord that is the one stealing from you? Especially in the current market where rents are rising because of the continuing housing crisis. Of course this isn’t always the case, because there are plenty of good landlords to balance out the bad.

Unfortunately for one landlord looking out for his tenants, his actions didn’t help the problem soon enough. John Campbell, the owner of a 22-unit complex in Malden, fired the building superintendent because he kept asking for personal loans from the tenants, according to the Boston Globe. Once the super was fired, seven tenants reported to Campbell that the man used his master key to enter apartments and write checks to himself.

Of course the landlord was trying to protect his tenants, did he have to?

Sharks! They're Everywhere! Are You Liable?

The Discovery Channel is preying on our fears this week with its much-touted "Shark Week" that explores shark biology and sensationalizes shark attacks. Then again, there were at least four "Jaws" movies that did the same thing. Needless to say, we enjoy being frightened by this creatures.

Recently there have been more sightings and even a shark bite on the Massachusetts coast this summer. Just this week a 12-foot shark was spotted close to shore in Wellfleet, according to the Boston Globe. This comes after the bite of a swimmer at Ballston Beach by a likely great white shark. It was the first such bite since 1936 when a swimmer was killed.

So if you own beachfront property, are you liable if someone is bitten?

Rats Rats Everywhere! Fenway Neighborhood Infestation Problem

As a tenant you have certain rights when it comes to what the landlord must repair. There are the obvious things like making sure the water runs and that the roof doesn't leak. But what if there were hundreds of rats that lived in and around your building?

This is the problem faced by tenants living in the buildings at 26 Hemenway St. and 24 Haviland St. Inspectors have counted over 100 rats and 50 burrows around the two buildings, according to WBZ-TV.

Own to Rent? Citigroup Gets Creative with Mortgages

It seems like the housing crisis has dragged on and on for years. There seemed to be no answer for the continuing foreclosures across the country, with numbers growing every day. Only recently have governments and banks alike really tried to attack the problem head on.

Citigroup's newest angle on underwater mortgages is to sell the mortgage to an investment company that would then take over ownership of the home and rent it back to the residents at a rate lower than what they were paying in mortgage payments, according to The Associated Press.

Is this a good deal for those underwater on their loans?

Casino License Application Process Opened By Gambling Board

Were you finding it hard to get to Vegas as often as you wanted? Or did you find that you really wanted the convenience of going to a casino without having to fly there or drive more than 6 hours? Sure, there's Monhegan Sun, but there your lost money isn't helping the Massachusetts economy.

Casinos have been approved in Massachusetts and now the Gambling Board has started its preliminary application process to award three licenses for three regions of the state, according to the Boston Globe. Applicants will be required to submit a certification form and a nonrefundable $400,000 fee to be an official applicant for one of the state's licenses.

Could the casino be coming next door to you?

Tree Falls Through Roof in Wilmington, Who's Liable?

With all of the wild weather going around, you might be wondering what happens when trees fall and damage property. Unlike when a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, when a tree falls on your house, there is usually quite a ruckus.

That is how Paul Palizzolo explained the sound made when a large branch crashed through his roof and into his bedroom the other day, according to the Boston Globe. Luckily, neither he nor his wife was in room at the time, as it would have likely hit and seriously injured anyone that had been there.

Could anyone be liable for the damage besides homeowners’ insurance?

Winchester, CT Housing Authority Accused of Housing Discrimination

Everyone wants their neighborhood to stay the same. They know their neighbors and know how to deal with their issues. Sure, there are bad neighborhoods where the residents want the abandoned buildings to be taken care of, or the criminal element to be removed, but people don’t really like too much change.

However, an entire town cannot decide that the best way to keep neighborhoods, or the whole town, from changing is to deny housing to people of different races. Yet, this is what the town of Winchester, Connecticut is accused of doing.

Mosque Opening in Waltham After Passing Zoning Requirements

It always seems so easy to start a new business and move into a building. All you need to do is pick a spot where there's an open lease and move on in. Sadly, it's not always that easy because of zoning laws.

The Waltham Islamic Society is facing this issue after purchasing 313 Moody Street to develop into a mosque, according to Boston.com. This address used to be the New Landing Restaurant, but will now be the Islamic Society's permanent home.

What could zoning have in store for the new mosque?

Boston Tenant Associations; Just Like Unions for Renters

Unions are there for employees to help stand up for rights that could get trampled if it was just one against the company. These groups of employees have organized to provide a united front against challenges like mass layoffs and or loss of benefits.

This type of organization is also available to renters that live in the same building or development. Organizations also can be formed city or countywide. In Boston, there are many tenant associations that cover different neighborhoods and have different goals.

Do you need to start or join a tenant association?