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Haverhill

January 4, 2013

Judge watches once-infested apartments

City councilor says repairs must be thorough and made quickly

HAVERHILL — A judge is keeping a close eye on repairs to a city apartment building that brought numerous complaints about bugs, rats and other unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

Families living in apartments at 34 Grand Ave. complained repeatedly to the city about rodents and bugs in the building, a lack of consistent heat and water and other problems. City health officials clamped down on the owner and ordered him to address numerous code violations that were found during an inspection by city health and safety inspectors. But when he failed to respond, the city brought the case to the Northeast Housing Court in Lawrence, where a judge appointed a receiver. Since that time there have been no complaints from tenants, city health officials said.

But, the receiver is being monitored closely by the housing court to ensure code violations are being addressed in an effective and timely manner, health officials said.

City Health Agent Bonnie Dufresne said the receiver, Avatar Properties, was issued a building permit Oct. 19 to remodel six kitchens and six bathrooms and replace 21 windows in the building, located a few blocks north of downtown. She said this periodic reporting is required of every receiver that is appointed by the housing court to address health and safety concerns. The building has 10 units.

Dufresne said that on July 5, Northeast Housing Court Judge David Kerman appointed Avatar, a residential and commercial property management company, as receiver. The order gives Avatar a range of powers, including borrowing money and granting security interests of liens on the property, collecting rents and applying them to payment of any repairs that are necessary to bring the property into compliance with the sanitary code.

Three weeks ago, a representative of Avatar Properties went before a judge in the Northeast Housing Court to report on progress being made.

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