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Past and present tenants of Navy Yard building sue over parking requirements; say they weren't told up front they'd have to prove they were paying for spaces elsewhere

When the BPDA gave final approval in 2016 to plans to convert the Charlestown Navy Yard's historic Ropewalk building into apartments, the developer agreed to a condition that tenants with cars would have to provide proof they were leasing parking spaces elsewhere, since the building's grounds had no room for cars.

But in a suit filed in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday, two couples - one former tenants, the other still Ropewalk residents - charge they were never told about the requirement when they signed their leases and that their leases contained no mention of the requirement, which they say and that they found out only after they moved in and the property managers tried to change their leases by adding new parking language to their existing leases.

This, they say, violates a state law granting tenants the right to "quiet enjoyment" of their apartments and the state law that forbids deceptive advertising. They are seeking to become the lead plaintiffs in a class-action suit on behalf of other past and present Ropewalk tenants, with damages that they say "greatly exceed" $50,000.

Joe Timilty's Frontier Properties first submitted plans to turn the building, in which the Navy long made rope, into a series of 90 apartments in 2014. In 2016, the company sought permission to expand that to 97 apartments, with this proviso:

Since no resident parking can be provided on site, the Proponent proposes to include language in the apartment leases obligating residents to secure space in the area facilities.

The company said it had secured agreements with the owners of several nearby garages to offer space to its tenants.

The building opened to residents in 2021.

Madeline Walsh and Christopher Sharpe were among the first tenants, moving in in August. They say the lease they signed said nothing about the parking agreement with the BPDA.

After the commencement of the Plaintiffs' residential leases, the Defendants attempted to unilaterally amend the Plaintiffs' original leases to include the requirement that they pay for private parking while, at the same time, threatening the Plaintiffs with default under the contract (giving rise to possible eviction) if they did not comply with said parking addendum.

The suit charges this was "an unlawful, unfair and deceptive act."

The suit, which does not say where the couples parked their cars before Frontier attempted to modify their leases, also seeks damages for alleged violations of the state law on apartment security deposits.

Complete complaint (5.1M PDF).

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Comments

Sounds reasonable. Regardless of what side of the parking debate you fall on, this is a case about a landlord having their tenants sign a lease with one set of requirements and then going back and changing those, and also threatening the tenants with illegal eviction if they don't comply. Big landlords shouldn't be allowed to try and throw their weight around to bully tenants.

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Voting closed 1298

Super shady regardless of how big or small of a landlord you are.

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Voting closed 1080

why does they city approve more housing without enough parking? this restriction is crazy.

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Voting closed 846

Not everyone wants or needs a car. Those who do want one can pay for a spot in a private lot or fight with their fellow residents for the taxpayer subsidized street spots.

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Voting closed 1238

Would you rather have more housing or more parking? You can't have both.

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Voting closed 984

Is this even a lawful requirement? I mean what happened to the old refuse to give them neighborhood parking stickers? Developers will literally say anything to neighborhood associations to get approval.

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Voting closed 613

The city has the power to restrict who can park on city streets.

The motivation for this suit is that restriction, using the lease as the vector for attack is all they really have.

https://www.change.org/p/save-charlestown-residents-from-out-of-state-de...

https://www.wcvb.com/article/charlestown-residents-say-apartment-develop...

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Voting closed 1399

But they have to enforce parking equally. This is very selective. It also seems like they also denied them Charlestown neighborhood parking.

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Voting closed 671

Anyone that lives in that building can't get a sticker. As it should be.

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Voting closed 796

Why can community groups stop new housing because of parking? That isn't equal

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Voting closed 1401

They should only have parking reserved for the projects.

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Voting closed 1377

While they're at it, Walsh, Sharpe, et al. should sue the City for denying them access to park on the street. It is a public right of way, isn't it? Why isn't access available to all members of the public? It seems that access to a residential parking permit is a privilege only available to those who lived there prior to a certain point in time, or who live in a building constructed prior to a certain point in time. It's been documented that some people use Boston streets to park three, four, or five cars at no cost, but we're denying other people access to park one car because they live in a newer building, I guess as some sort of way of placating people when new housing is being built.

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Voting closed 1109

The parking requirement isn't the issue. The issue is unilaterally changing a lease before its term has ended and threatening eviction if the tenants don't sign on to the change. It's a breach of contract plus making unlawful threats.

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Voting closed 1141

I hope the tenants put the landlord through the wringer.

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Voting closed 616