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Displaced tenants from Worcester apartment collapse hauled into court by landlord

Landlord of condemned Worcester apartment brings tenants to court
Landlord of condemned Worcester apartment brings tenants to court 02:08

WORCESTER - A Worcester landlord brought dozens of tenants to court Monday, demanding their belongings must go. The problem is, the building at 267 Mill Street was condemned days after it collapsed a week and a half ago, as roofers worked with equipment overhead. "We need to get all of the tenants' salvageable property out of the apartments," said the landlord's attorney Walter Jacobs.

Tenant Tatiana Borges says at first, the landlord pressured tenants to go in themselves to clean out apartments. She says that is what put her in a wheelchair. "It was very, very hot. I was sweating because there was no fresh air. There was no running water; there was nothing," she said.

Tenants say the building has no electricity, and therefore no air conditioning or light. They say the windows are boarded up, floors are cracked, and carpets have been pulled up exposing nails. "I ended up slipping and falling," said Borges.

Since then, the Worcester building inspector has made the building off limits. That's why property manager Michelle Fren appeared before a judge in housing court, asking for legal permission allowing maintenance workers and movers to empty the units themselves.

They also want to be able to throw away anything that's not deemed salvageable, which has some tenants panicked. "I need my passport," said Samuel Okai, who hasn't had access to his apartment since the collapse.

Worcester City Councilor Etel Haxhiaj hopes she can be an advocate for them. "My primary concern is where are they going to store things. Who's going to pay for them? These folks are currently homeless."

Nothing was resolved in court Monday. The judge ordered all parties to return Wednesday. She said she can't even consider the request until the landlord produces documentation showing the Worcester Housing Inspector says it's safe to enter the building.

In the meantime, Massachusetts Housing Officials are footing the bill for tenants to stay in a hotel for two more weeks.

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