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September 2012 Archives

Nightclub Owner Gives Land for 2003 Fire Memorial

You may remember the story, almost 10 years ago now, of the Great White show at The Station, a club in West Warwick, R.I. At the show, pyrotechnics ignited flammable foam in the walls, resulting in a fire that killed 100 people.

Now the property is being transferred to a group dedicated to creating a memorial to those killed in the blaze, according to WCVB-TV. The lawyer representing property owner Ray Villanova filed documents Friday that transferred ownership to the Station Fire Memorial Foundation. The only condition on the transfer is that a suitable memorial be maintained at the site in perpetuity.

These types of conditions are called easements.

Foreclosure Victims Can Cash in on Banks' 'Robosigning' Settlement

The years between 2008 and 2011 were not so good for Massachusetts homeowners. That's because it was a time when more than 21,000 homeowners lost their homes through the foreclosure process.

At the same time, home prices were going crazy, jobs were disappearing like David Copperfield was in control, and national banks were foreclosing on homes that people could no longer afford. However, they were skipping important steps in the foreclosure process through a practice now known as "robosigning," according to the Boston Globe. This type of signing meant that no one was properly reviewing the paperwork necessary to repossess a house.

President Obama Slept in Somerville: Did He Fulfill Tenant's Duties?

Most people know that President Obama attended Harvard Law School (just like former Gov. Mitt Romney). However, what is not so well-known is that the president didn't stay in pricey Cambridge when he studied there, but instead looked to the more affordable (at the time) Somerville, according to the Boston Globe.

While rents have risen everywhere, you can still save hundreds a month by choosing to live in Somerville. Then-law student Barack Obama did so, but reporters and students have wondered: Did he pay his rent on time?

His former landlord says that he did. But along with paying rent, what other duties do tenants have?

Watertown's Rat Infestation: Do Residents Need the Pied Piper?

There's little worse in terms of being at home than having rats. The thing with rats is that you usually don't see them scurrying across the floor. Instead, you just hear them late at night, their chewing and scratching at the walls preventing a calm sleep.

It seems as though there has been a sharp increase in rats on the east side of Watertown. The town received more phone calls about rats than it has in previous years, according to the Boston Globe. The calls began in May and increased over the summer. As of now, it's not clear what's causing the infestation and population growth.

The town wants residents to inform them if there are rats on private property. But people are hesitant about letting health officials inspect their property because if rats are found, the property owner must pay to have them exterminated.

Why is this the case?

Bank of America Sued for Discrimination in Mortgage Lending

It appears there are some people in certain industries who feel like anti-discrimination laws don't apply to them.

Recently, Bank of America has been accused of denying mortgages to disabled people because of their disability and not because of their credit rating, according to Courthouse News Service. In the complaint, government lawyers allege that Bank of America forced disabled citizens to provide notes from their doctors proving their disability and asking how long their disability pay from Social Security would continue.

What can lenders ask you without getting sued by the U.S. government?

Off to College? What Rights Do You Have in the Dorm?

September is the time of year when college students have moved in and are starting to settle into their new housing. Some choose to live on campus in a dorm room and some choose to rent from a private landlord. For those living on campus you must deal with a maze of resident assistants and roommates to determine your rights.

While some of the traditional landlord/tenant protections are the same at colleges, the dorm is a new place for both the students and their parents. Now you need to know what rights you have in that home away from home.

How to Throw a Block Party in Boston

There's nothing like a block party where you close off the street and all the neighbors can mingle. That way, everyone isn't crushed into one person's house, making it a hot sweaty mess.

Of course, like everything, there are steps to take when you're having a large neighborhood block party so police won't come shut it down.

In Boston, if you're going to hold such an event, you may need to get the proper permits. The first question to ask is where the party is going to take place.

Fair Housing Act Applies to Banks, Lenders Too

When we hear about the Fair Housing Act, or FHA, we tend to think about its protections for renters and homebuyers. Those protections allow for everyone to get housing regardless of their gender, race, familial status, ethnic background, etc. However, the law also protects people from discrimination by banks or other lenders.

A recent case brought by the U.S. Attorney General's office illustrates this point perfectly. The AG claims that Luther Burbank Savings has been discriminating against minorities for the past five years, according to Courthouse News Service. The bank enforced a $400,000 minimum loan amount policy for its single-family residential mortgage program, which allegedly had a disparate impact on racial and ethnic minorities.

What does the government need to show to be successful in its claim?

Vermont Town Best for Beer? How to Brew Your Own in Boston

Beer -- it's a lovely thing when done right. Of course there are days when a Keystone will do, but then there are the days that you want something delicious and new.

It seems as though Waterbury, Vt., has been dubbed the best beer town in New England by Boston.com. The town earned this honor by having a wide array of pubs serving hard-to-find brews. At the Alchemist Brewpub, for example, people used to sneak beer from their pint glasses into containers to take home. Unfortunately, the brewpub has closed, but The Alchemist Brewery is still up and running, and Prohibition Pig has taken its place in serving rare beers from Alchemist and other breweries.

You might ask "What about Harpoon and Idle Hands? Why isn't Boston the best beer town in New England?" It might just be that there aren't enough craft brews and you need to get into the game. Here's some information to get you started.

It's Starting to Cool Down: Do Landlords Have to Provide Heat?

Sure, it's still in the upper 70s and lower 80s during the day, but it's starting to cool off into the 50s at night. Now is the time to start thinking about staying warm this fall and winter.

Why now? Well, now is the time to make sure your heater works so if it needs to be fixed, you have time to get it done before it gets downright frigid. Alas, you and your roommate's body heat won't be enough to keep the pipes from freezing.

But if you're a tenant, who's supposed to pay for your heat anyway?

Gay Buyers: Church Discrimination Nixed Northbridge Mansion Deal

Discrimination still looms large it seems. Laws attempt to level the playing field, but even the most far-reaching anti-discrimination laws have their limits.

A married couple from Sutton are feeling like they have been victims of discrimination in a recent real estate deal gone sour with the Diocese of Worcester, according to the Boston Globe. James Fairbanks and Alain Beret are real estate investors who purchase large properties and renovate them into inns and wedding locales. They claim that the Diocese refused to sell its Northbridge mansion property to them because the church feared gay weddings might occur there.

The church refutes the claim, stating that the sale did not go through because the couple did not offer enough money for the property, according to the Globe.

What would the men need to show that they were discriminated against, and not just unable to pay?

New Domino's Pizza in Roslindale Village? It's a Matter of Taste

Domino's Pizza has had its ups and downs. It used to be delivered in 30 minutes or it was free. It even cooked up a video game with its mascot the "Noid." Now it must try and convince people that it's undergone a "Pizza Turnaround."

Seems as though Domino's has not convinced many in Roslindale Village of its new qualities. The Roslindale Village Main Street, a non-profit group, is holding a meeting at the Community Center on Monday to discuss whether the restaurant should be allowed to set up shop next to the Subway on Washington Street, according to Boston.com. RVMS opposes the plan because it fears Domino's would unfairly compete with mom-and-pop pizza shops nearby.

What is stopping Domino's from opening anyway?

Old Colony to Get New Look; Grievance Process Still the Same

South Boston's Old Colony public housing complex will soon be getting the works. The redevelopment project has been approved and will begin construction soon, according to The Boston Globe.

The redevelopment is promoted as not only a refurbishing of public housing in South Boston, but also as a creator of jobs. The project will also include pre-apprenticeship training for 30 residents, according to the Globe.

The soon-to-be improved buildings remind us that public-housing residents have the same rights as tenants in private housing. But there's a different grievance process for public-housing residents.

Can You Buy a Mass. Surf Spot and Privatize It?

It sounds like a pretty great idea, doesn't it? Getting some friends together and buying the land in front of your favorite Massachusetts surf spot to keep others away from your wave. Sure, this would take a lot of friends or winning the Mega Millions jackpot, but it would be worth it, wouldn't it?

This may sound far-fetched but it is happening in the island nation of Maldives, and it may soon become a trend. Plans call for the Maldivian government to provide one or more islands to developers that would own the land and the surf breaks, closing them to the public, according to Surfline.

So could this happen in Massachusetts?