Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not-so-private property

When work was being done to fix up a house on Chelsea Street two years ago, the crew on the job used the alley way on the right side to set up their ladders and to pass from the street to the back yard. The problem was that the alley is the property of my aunt, who lives next door to the building that was being worked on, and no one asked her for permission. Eventually the wooden gate was broken and one of the screens on my aunt's house was torn by a ladder.

Several people, myself included, spoke to the guys doing the work, but communication was difficult as they only spoke Spanish. An Internet search yielded the out-of-town owner of the house, but my messages were not returned. Eventually we made some headway and the gate was replaced. Still, the alley was used as a throughway until I put a lock on it with a "No Tresspassing" sign. Two years later the garbage from the house next door is still occasionally piled in front of the gate in anticipation of pick-up day.

How does one deal with situations where one party is unclear of property boundaries -- or just insists on ignoring them? Today I spoke with friends of mine who are dealing with a similar situation. They own a coffee shop on Meridian Street and their neighbors -- a music store -- has been dumping trash in the coffee shop's backyard for a while. Now the music store had a compressor built in the alley that is property of the coffee shop.

The owner of the music store has been unresponsive, according to my friends, and calls to the Boston Police have not been helpful either. The responding officers have told them to call the city's electrical inspectors. The city has said to call the police. Is there no recourse besides legal action -- which is a slow and expensive process. Any thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Even though the alley may be your Aunt's property per her deed and plot plan, if you investigate, I'm pretty sure that you'll find that it is also a right of way for the neighbor to access his rear yard. This is the case with most of the alleys in East Boston. Also, be careful, if the Fire Dept. finds the gate locked you may have a violation on your hands for blocking a means of egress in case of fire. As for the trash placed in front of the gate, next time call Inspectional Services at City Hall. Again, be careful, your Aunt may get the green ticket since it is technically her property. Finally, as for the compressor on Meridian St., have them call Inspectional Servioes, not the Electrical Dept. Ask if a permit was pulled, bet there wasn't. This is Eastie afterall.

Anonymous said...

I would call inspectional city services,if they do not respond i would call sal lamattinas office directly,i had the same situation around my property where non english speaking neighbors throw out open garbage bags they do not even use barrels,they also throw there trash out early in the day or even on holidays before trash day.

Anonymous said...

ISD has never done anything for me. They only act if it is in the interest of the city, doesn't matter if a resident is being wronged. One more depressing reason why people's problems probably won't be resolved.

Anonymous said...

Unhook the compressor and move it into your basement. It's in your yard - it's yours! Put up a sign that says "compressor found on private property relocated by owner." They'll get the picture.

N.starluna said...

Anonymous at 9:01 pm is right. You need to make sure for both properties that there is no right of way or easement. This requires a bit of digging through property records at the Registry of Deeds and sometimes even court records.

As for the music shop, I might suggest contacting the East Boston Chamber of Commerce for some help. They can sometimes get their members to be better neighbors. I wouldn't recommend taking the compressor because you may be causing more legal problems than you want. I personally would start with ISD. I've never had any problems with them.

If the owners of the coffee shop have a lawyer on retainer, they might want to ask him/her to look into the property rights around the alley way.

Jenafah said...

I have had some problems with people just leaving furniture in front of my house. I would go to leave for work in the morning and find an abandoned sofa or chair in front of my house. Each time I've called the Mayors office and they sent someone to pick it up that day or the next day. My primary concern was being ticketed for these items.

James said...

The important part about the easement is to find what the purpose of the easement is. An easement doesn't give ownership rights of the alley to the music store - it will have narrowly defined rights which in the case of alleyways are usually just the right to occasionally pass through the land. In order for the compressor to be permenantly placed in the easement, the purpose would have to include the placement of such items as compressors for the benefit of the music store.

Usually, these types of easements are fairly limited and won't allow storage of anything or even irregular travel over the easement.

ISD should be able to deal with the permitting issue of the compressor, but this is more of an issue to title to the property. Why don't you have your family call its title insurance company and they might handle it for free?

Anonymous said...

I have seen English speaking people throw huge amounts of trash on the ground too.

Eastie Girl said...

Since not all businesses in East Boston are members of the Chamber - I would also touch base with Clarke Moulaison at Main Streets. His organization has done a great job with building rapport and relationships with local businesses.

Anonymous said...

Forget about reasoning with that music store. The Chamber, Main Streets, the City Councilor and a host of others have already tried to get them to clean up their facade and windows. They have turned everyone down and have no inclination to be a good corporate citizen to the neighborhood that they do business in.

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone,
Through the Mayor's Neighborhood response team we were able to get the property into housing court as well as a fine for the construction debri. The owners of the coffee shop are pleased and the owner of the music store knows the city means business.
Johnny Forbes

Anonymous said...

Hooray for the city and for Jimbo if has advocacy had anything to do with this getting higher on the radar screen of the city. I would guess it did...

Anonymous said...

Thank you once again Johnny see people, instead of just bitchin and moaning about everything try calling Johnny once in a while and maybe things will get done. He can't help if he doesn't hear from you. I always find him responsive and one of the best coordinators since Sal LaMattina himself held the position. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I went into Meridian 155 today for my usual latte and I don't always stirke up a conversation, but I was a bit curious after reading this blog. The owners had nothing but praise for both Johnny Forbes and Sal. They said that they were very helpful, professional and kind. They also noted that the "unit" was still there, but they are hopeful it will be removed soon and yes to all you know it alls it is their property. So, instead of complaining next time do as they did and simply call someone for help that is what Johnny and Sal are there for.

Anonymous said...

go to

open the search link

type in by name or address for both your aunts ,as well as the neighbors ,and click on all documents

This should bring up the history ,as well as plot plans for both

also you can go to

click in Inspectional services

scroll down till you see permit search box

enter the neighbors address,and hit enter

it will bring you "if" all permits filed for the job if any,and they are required by law to submit a plot plan as well as a long,or short form

both are free,and you can print all info you might find

as far as the Music store goes,it should be shuttered.


have a good day everyone

Anonymous said...

Who are Johny,and Sal,if I may ask.