Politicians (again) vow to clean up Allston apts

It seems like every September our elected officials and other City employees act all serious as they walk around Allston with the media in tow talking about landlords who rent dirty, unhealthy, and/or unsafe apartments. This year the tour went down Wadsworth Street, right around the corner from Linden and Ashford Street where they stopped in 2006.

In 2006, "Mayor Thomas Menino promised to crack down on landlords who take advantage of students" (WCVB)

In 2009, "Menino said his office is developing new ways to ensure renters are not crammed into substandard housing by widening the responsibility for housing violations and possibly increasing fines, saying the current penalties were “mild in light of the conditions we’re seeing." (Allston Brighton TAB)

Is not like Boston is the only city in the world where this happens. Gainsville, FL - home of the University of Florida - distributes this nice brochure which explains an interesting concept:

"Accumulation of six or more points on a permit for a dwelling unit during three consecutive annual permit periods could subject the owner to proceedings which could revoke the landlord permit"

In the grand scheme of things, this is a relatively simple problem to solve. Do our elected officials really want to solve it and can't figure out how? Or do they just like talking about the problem but don't really care about solving it?

11 comments:

  1. Would there be recourse for landlords if they can prove due diligence? We own one of the houses on Wadsworth.

    My tenants keep infecting our place with bedbugs and refuse to take the trash to the curb on trash day. I've paid 8 times over the last 2 years to treat the bugs. (We used to live in the place ourselves - for 10 years - and never had bugs.) Invariably the tenants don't follow Terminix's directions and reinfect.

    I bought them huge trashcans so at least the trash is covered, and they still can't manage to pull it 4 feet to the curb. I feel like it can't possibly be my job to go over there and put the trash out myself.

    I am at my wits end, and talking to them doesn't seem to be getting anywhere.

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  2. I am a landlord and resident on Pratt Street, and a BU alumnus and former Allston renter. I do understand that it's the Landlord's responsibility to clear the trash created on Sept 1, I am angered that there is absolutely never any blame on these transient students, who create this filth to begin with. Not to mention they trash the neighborhood all during the school year, not just on Sept 1.

    Tenants may be students but they are adults, and are responsibile for maintaining a clean living space.

    My only hope with BU's new dorms is that it will move students back to campus and open Allston to more respectable renters. A person can dream, right?

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  3. Do these bad tenants forfeit their security deposit when they behave like this? Is this amount of money too low to for them care?

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  4. Yeah, but that does not appear to change things. Besides, at this point, the security deposit is ~$3500 (one month's rent; fairly standard) and the latest bedbug treatment is estimated at ~$2400. We aren't winning.

    Also, we kind of need the money from the place so even if we had legal grounds to evict (which we don't) or if the tenants broke their lease and left, we can't afford to leave it empty. It leaves us with not much of a stick to threaten with. Maybe a carrot would work better - I'm considering writing in a "good behavior" discount to the next tenant's lease (something like for every month I do not get a bad report from our old neigbor $100 off the rent). Of course this would put the neighbor in a high-pressure position. I don't know. I'm out of ideas.

    Of course, when we looked for renters to fill the place we could not find many takers because no one but students want to live there while there is so little enforcement of public drunkenness laws...

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  5. Harry would you mind expounding on 'a relatively simple problem to solve'? My guess is that it's a bit more complicated than it seems, hence our elected officials paying merely lip service to the problems.

    Lo, you must be an incredibly calm, well adjusted person to not only rent on Pratt St.....but to live there too! :)
    I'm with you, the students don't get their fair share of the blame in this charade.... Perhaps it's because they keep the liquor stores/bars in business....

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  6. I mean relative compared to issues that I consider much more complicated and difficult like crime and education. Especially in areas like the piece of Allston around Linden, Pratt, and Ashford Streets where these problems are so abundant. Just walk around on trash pickup day (or the day before) and it is pretty clear where some of the worst offenders are.

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  7. Gotcha.

    Sort of the 'belly of the beast', those streets you mention.

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  8. Trash pickup day isn't the worst. Walk around on a Saturday at about 2:30. I actually had the BU public relations guy and the police officer he showed up with tell me point-blank that they were not going to increase patrols. They said "you knew it was a college area when you moved here, didn't you?"

    Well, when I moved there "college area" meant kind of noisy, not fistfights and fires in the street (NOT kidding about the fires).

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  9. richenza, do you have a multi-unit rental? if so, maybe you could charge less for one of the units with the understanding that the occupant would be a sort of superintendent. Maybe interview families who are looking for a long-term rental but can't afford the area under normal circumstances? I don't know your situation and it's totally none of my business, so I hope I'm not out of line. But this was my situation in the North End, and it enabled me to live there for 15 years and my landlord to not have a nervous breakdown.

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  10. HTBM, I'm afraid it's a single 5-bed unit. We would totally drop the rent for a family, if we could find one willing to live there. I'm open to suggestions and new tenant recommendations.

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  11. I'll keep my ear to the ground. I'm sorry to hear about your tenant trouble.

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