EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

November 18, 2012

Windham motel owner wants police help with evictions

WINDHAM — The owner of The Manor Motel wants police to help remove non-paying guests and will make his case before selectmen tonight.

Motel owner Dick Messina’s disagreement with town officials isn’t so much about whether police will help, but when.

Messina believes he is entitled to police help as necessary under state law as an innkeeper.

But town officials maintain landlord-tenant laws apply in cases where people have established residency and Messina needs to take those evictions through the court system. The town’s attorney is expected to back their view.

Messina said case law is lacking, so he’s prepared to go to court, though he hopes that is avoided.

“My intention in going to court would be to have them interpret who does what or when,” Messina said.

This isn’t the first time the issue has arisen with The Manor Motel.

The town and Messina reached an understanding four years ago, but earlier this year they had a dispute over a tenant eviction. Messina had to go to court and has asked the town to pay his expenses, about $1,500.

“We recently had an issue where we had an impasse and we didn’t get anywhere,” Messina said.

“We felt we followed the 2008 understanding agreed to by the board of selectmen and he disagreed,” Town Administrator David Sullivan said.

In reviewing the matter, police concluded the hotel guest in question had established residency at The Manor Motel, Sullivan said.

Police consider a checklist of items, such as whether a vehicle is registered with the town, to determine if a person is a resident.

If someone has been there for a day or two, police can respond because they are stealing services by failing to pay their bill, Sullivan said.

But, if a person is there for a month and has taken such actions such as registering a car and enrolling children in school, they have become a tenant, he said.

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