skip to Main Content

Background Information on 305-307 Pleasant Street & the Abandoned Housing Initiative (AHI)

BACKGROUND ON 305-307 PLEASANT STREET

• The homeowner, Joaquim B. Timas, died in 2007. The homeowner’s wife, Maria, began a probate action, but the title to the property was never transferred to her or to any of the homeowner’s other heirs.

• The mortgage holder, now Bank of NY Mellon, sent multiple notices indicating it was going to foreclose on the property, but never completed the foreclosure, and allowed the property to remain vacant in pre-foreclosure status.

• At the time the City of New Bedford referred the property to the AG’s Office, it was in disrepair. During an interior inspection conducted by the City in 2015, the Department of Health noted holes in the walls and ceilings; bathrooms and kitchens with no operational fixtures, no hot water, and missing lighting fixtures; a hole in the roof; and no operational heating system. There was trash and debris strewn throughout the property.

• The AG’s Office initially asked the court to appoint a receiver for 305-307 Pleasant Street in June 2016. The court allowed notice of the receivership petition to be made by publication and by posting a copy of the notice on the front door at the property.

• In January 2017, the court appointed WHALE as receiver. WHALE then worked to repair the property under the supervision of the Southeast Housing Court, making regular reports and accountings to the court. Copies of these filings were sent to the homeowner’s heirs, including Clayton Timas.

• Since May 2017, the receiver has provided ample notification of the details of this case, court dates, and receiver’s progress to the heirs to the property.

• In May 2017, a certified mail receipt shows that someone at Mr. Timas’s New Bedford residence signed for a mailing containing the receiver’s budget and accounting to the court. Since that time, the receiver has consistently sent Mr. Timas notices related to the receivership. Most notably, in April 2020 and May 2020, additional filings sent by certified mail were signed for at Mr. Timas’s residence.

• The receiver published notice of the auction in the Standard Times. The notice ran on May 20, 2020; May 27, 2020; and June 3, 2020.

• Mr. Timas did not come forward until the date of the auction, when he appeared at the scheduled auction of the property. Mr. Timas requested the postponement of the auction. The AG’s Office, together with the receiver, agreed to postpone the auction for ten days.

• Neither the AG’s Office nor WHALE heard from Mr. Timas again until the day before the rescheduled auction, when he filed an emergency motion asking the court to stop the auction scheduled. The Southeast Housing Court heard Mr. Timas’s motion. Citing the numerous instances of notice provided to Mr. Timas, the court denied the motion.

• Despite having authorization from the court to move forward with the auction, the AG’s Office and WHALE agreed to cancel the auction scheduled for June 26, 2020, allowing Mr. Timas more time to learn about the Abandoned Housing Initiative/receivership process and decide how he wanted to proceed. The AG’s Office has scheduled a meeting with Mr. Timas and hopes to address his concerns regarding the property and the AHI process.

• The mortgage holder began foreclosure proceedings, but never completed the foreclosure and thereby allowed the property to fall into complete disrepair. Often, families, believing the bank’s foreclosure action is imminent, will leave properties, only to have the banks fail to follow through in obtaining legal title.

• Neglect by banks is prevalent in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. It causes real harm to the community as the properties deteriorate and become unsafe. Banks, citing the properties’ pre-foreclosure status, often refuse to secure and repair them, leaving neighbors to contend with fallout of living next door to the blight and nuisance abandoned properties present.

• The Attorney General’s Abandoned Housing Initiative uses receivership as a tool of last resort to return these properties to safe and habitable status. In doing so, the AG’s office looks for opportunities to create affordable housing and avoid displacement.

• Several of the receiverships that the AG’s Office in Southeast Massachusetts has completed have included first time home buyer or affordable housing deed riders on the completed properties. By employing these tools, the AG’s Office and its receivers are able to increase the stock of affordable housing in communities and allow individuals who would otherwise have been priced out of the real estate market to afford to buy homes and begin building equity. These tools also combat displacement by preventing speculators from swooping in and buying up property, further pushing traditional members of communities out of their neighborhoods.

• In New Bedford, properties on Jireh, Belleville, Allen, and Cottage Streets and an additional property on Pleasant Street (318 Pleasant – across the street from the property currently being discussed) have recently been rehabilitated through receivership and sold through a lottery to first time homebuyers with lower than the median income for the area. The properties located on Allen and Pleasant were rehabilitated by WHALE. WHALE also worked with the AG’s Office and other community partners in the creation of the Veterans Transition House at 1060 Pleasant Street and the Howland House, which resulted in five affordable units of housing.

BACKGROUND ON THE ABANDONED HOUSING INITIATIVE (AHI)

• The Abandoned Housing Initiative (AHI) helps to reduce blight and revitalize neighborhoods, bring abandoned properties back up to safe and habitable living conditions, and prepare them for homeowners to move in.

• Through the program, the AG’s Office works with municipalities to identify abandoned residential properties. Many of these abandoned properties have a negative impact on their community – they have fallen into disrepair, present public safety concerns, and leave properties unused when there is huge need for affordable housing across the state.

• The AG’s Office works to identify and contact the property owner and any party with a legal interest in a property and attempts to reach an agreement under which the owner will complete the repairs necessary to get the property back up to safe and habitable conditions.

• If the owner or mortgagee cannot or will not complete the necessary repairs, the AG’s Office can ask the court to appoint a receiver to bring the property back up to code. Usually the receiver is an individual or a nonprofit who will complete the necessary repairs.

• The State Sanitary Code allows the receiver to place a lien against the property for all repair costs. At the conclusion of the receivership, the owner of the property may reimburse the receiver for costs and clear the lien. If the owner cannot or will not pay the costs, then the receiver can foreclose on that lien, typically through public auction.

• The AHI program strikes a balance between private property owner’s rights and the public’s right to be free from dangers posed by health, safety, and building code violations. The owner never loses legal title to the property during the receivership. The only time the owner loses title is if the owner fails to pay the receiver’s lien or is not the successful purchaser through the foreclosure. The owner is always given the opportunity to step in and take responsibility for the property at any time during the receivership but must complete the required work to the court’s satisfaction.

• In 2019, the AGO released a report describing the different aspects of the AHI program (including grant funding for the creation of affordable housing and additional successes in New Bedford): https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/04/09/AHI%20030119.pdf?_ga=2.8399%205408.860870383.1554738003-470911606.1527184348

• More information of AHI’s use of receivership can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-more-about-the-abandoned-housing-initiative

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top
×Close search
Search