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City Council urges parties to negotiate in tenant-landlord dispute

Posted by Matt Byrne  September 26, 2012 10:02 AM

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The Malden City Council approved a resolution Tuesday prodding a Malden landlord to negotiate with a tenant's union formed to opposed rent increases.

The resolution, offered by councilors Steve Ultrino, James Nestor, Barbara Murphy, and John Matheson, calls for Alpha Management, a subsidiary of which purchased three buildings in Malden and one in Medford comprising more than 200 units, to negotiate with the Medford/Malden Tenants United.

The measure calls for Alpha and tenants to "find a balance between investors desires for maximum profit, tenants desire for secure homes, and the community's need for affordable housing," according to the city clerk's office.

The resolution, offered under suspension of docket rules at the beginning of the council's committee of the whole session, passed on a voice vote, with no apparent opposition.

"We want to make sure Alpha Management comes to the table," said Councilor John Matheson, a cosponsor.

The tenant's group formed after Alpha and its proprietor, Boston rental property magnate Anwar Faisal, raised rents or threatened to evict residents. Faisal eventually took dozens of tenants to court.

In the audience sat about a dozen members of the union, many wearing yellow Medford/Malden Tenants United T-shirts. The group's numbers seem to have waned since the rent disagreement began in June, when Sunday night meetings of the group would draw sizable crowds.

Alpha's attorney, Joshua Krefetz, said while court proceedings have yielded decisions that would allow Faisal to evict residents, the landlord has not acted on the decision, leading many to move out on their own or begin paying the new rent rates.

Monica Tosches, a representative of the union, disagreed, and said in an e-mail message that two tenants have been evicted.

The discord between Alpha and the tenants has evolved since the rent dispute first began, with tenants seeking alternative avenues to pressure the landlord. An anonymous tipster informed the city in June that new tenants had moved into two units at 40 Cedar St., according to city documents.

A city inspector, informed that Alpha had rented apartments without undergoing a mandatory rental unit inspection performed by the city Board of Health, issued three tickets in June totaling $2,500.

But Alpha and Krefetz appealed the levy, and Danielle Hender, the city's hearing officer, reduced the fines to $900. Apartments in the city are supposed to be inspected between periods of occupancy to ensure the units meet health standards.

Matt Byrne can be reached at mbyrne.globe@gmail.com.

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