EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

January 4, 2013

Judge watches once-infested apartments

City councilor says repairs must be thorough and made quickly

(Continued)

City Councilor Michael McGonagle, a member of the Public Safety Committee, said it is in the best interest of a receiver to do the work required because the sooner it is done the sooner that receiver can be compensated for the costs of bringing a building up to code.

“There’s no advantage for a receiver to take too much time,” McGonagle said. “The sooner they get a building up to code, the sooner they can go back and petition the court to be compensated for their time, effort, material and labor.

“At that point if the owner doesn’t want to compensate the receiver, I believe the receiver can foreclose on the property,” he said. “That’s why a receiver is interested in being a receiver, as there is opportunity there. From the city side, it’s important for us to know where these receivership properties stand so that we can get them rehabilitated, rented and back on the tax rolls.’’

The condition of the building was the subject of numerous calls last spring by tenants who complained about conditions ranging from rodents and insects to missing window screens, leaky faucets, broken and trash that former tenants left but was never removed.

The city’s code team of health and safety inspectors noted a variety of violations and ordered the property owner, Michael DeLuca, to correct the violations. When he failed to comply with the request, the city brought the matter to the housing court.

Residents of the building complained to city health officials they had no heat, that their water and electricity were both shut off for a day because the owner didn’t pay his utility bills, and that the building was infested with bugs. They also complained of missing window screens, broken locks, missing switch plates, broken kitchen cabinet doors, exposed ceiling light fixtures, missing floor tiles and other issues they said made their apartments uncomfortable, unhealthy and unsafe.

According to city assessor records, DeLuca is still listed as the owner of the apartment building.

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