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October 15, 2012

Evictions begin at boarding house

LAWRENCE — The court-appointed receiver running a South Union Street boarding house evicted 10 tenants last week, adding to the four he threw out the week before and the seven he hopes to evict this week.

Alan Hope, a local developer appointed by Lawrence District Court to manage the boarding house in July after its owners failed for months to correct scores of building and fire code violations, said the evictions are part of an effort to upgrade and renovate the boarding house and another on Common Street owned by the same New York landlord, Don Henry.

The city's Board of Health condemned Henry's boarding house at 575 Common St. May 16, displacing 60 people. A week later, board chairman Joel Gorn called the boarding house at 77 Union St. a "cesspool" of drug dealing and squalor and threatened to close it if Henry did not fix the health and fire code violations.

Instead, the board in July asked the Lawrence District Court to turn over the Union Street house to a receiver with power to evict unmanageable tenants, make repairs and send Henry a bill when it's all over.

“We're chipping away at an iceberg,” Hope said, describing the conditions he inherited. In one instance, Hope said that after repairing empty units on the third floor, several second-floor tenants went upstairs and “broke down the doors, poured glue down the toilets and threw syringes in the sinks.”

“Some of these people damaged the property,” Hope said about the tenants he's evicting. “They didn't pay rent. Some of them have (arrest) warrants. Some are drug addicts. There's a whole bunch of reasons (to evict them).”

Seven of the tenants Hope is trying to evict showed up Thursday morning in Housing Court, where a judge continued their case one week. The 10 who did not appear were ordered evicted, according to Bill Serel, who is managing the boarding house.

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