Photos show the squalid Boston condo that ‘grossed out’ a state judge
By Gintautas Dumcius
27 August 2015

The sole mattress in the condominium unit was hollowed out, replaced by a rat’s nest.

During a July inspection of the unit, steps from the Charles River and Boston Public Garden, the rodents could be heard screeching, shifting and running.

At least 100 rats were found to be living inside the unit, joined by one man.

Days later, city officials condemned Unit 3R at 124 Beacon St., calling it “not fit for human habitation.”

During another inspection, a pest control company found 20 dead rats in 30 minutes, and “there were scores more remaining in the unit,” according to a recent court filing.

It took a biohazard cleaning company three weeks to demolish the unit down to the studs. Empty sunflower seed shells were scattered throughout the condo, and the rats did not scamper when others tried to enter, suggesting that the occupant was “feeding the rats in an effort to domesticate them,” according to the court filing.

The once-squalid unit, which is an 11-minute walk from the Massachusetts State House, is at the center of a civil complaint that included 82 pages of pictures of the conditions inside Unit 3R. Photos released by Boston Inspectional Services show dead rats, VHS tapes and copies of TV Guide littering the unit.

The complaint, filed by the person living directly below Unit 3R, landed on the desk of Suffolk Superior Court Judge Linda Giles, who presided over a hearing this week between the owner of the unit and the neighbor. The complaint was filed earlier in August.

“I just ate lunch, so this is grossing me out,” Giles said, looking at the attorneys for the unit’s owner and the neighbor.

Giles marveled at the number of rodents found by a pest control company. “He removed 100 rats,” she said. “That’s extraordinary.”

“I can’t imagine that happens too often on Beacon Hill,” the judge added.

Attorney Julie Heinzelman represented the rat colony’s neighbor, Allison Mazer. Mazer is a real estate agent who worked with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when he sold his Beacon Street penthouse in 2012.

The cleanup of Unit 3R caused dust and debris to fall on counters, table tops, artwork, bedding and furniture in Mazer’s unit, Heinzelman said.

“The walls and ceilings on the second floor, as well as the top edge of the cathedral ceiling in the living room, showed signs of dust infiltration from the ceiling area adjacent to Unit 3R,” Mazer’s court filing said, asking for “in excess of” $300,000 from Unit 3R’s owner.

The ceiling will have to be removed and replaced; Mazer and her brother, who was living with her at the time, have both vacated the premises, according to the filing.

After the cleanup, the entire building “suffered an overwhelmingly strong odor of rat urine and decay from Unit 3R, which permeated through the common areas and into other units, including Mazer’s condominium unit,” the court filing said.

Wala Chorbachi, the owner of Unit 3R, quietly sat in the audience as her attorney Andrew Tine said Mazer’s complaint should be directed against the cleaning company, 24 Trauma.

She had no control or access to the site during the cleanup, and she was unaware of the conditions within the unit until an initial inspection on June 23, according to Tine.

Her 49-year-old son had been living there for 15 years. She lives in Cambridge and had not been inside Unit 3R since 2002.

Tine said she would leave food and other items outside his door.

In a recent online posting seeking help from an attorney, Chorbachi said her son had severe agoraphobia, a fear of crowds and public spaces.

“He is unable to be in a public space & has not seen the light of day in over 7 years,” she wrote.

The building’s condo association, in a separate complaint, successfully sought to prohibit Chorbachi and her son from returning to the unit “until further order of this court.” Other residents had filed complaints about constant “loud banging noises” coming from Unit 3R.

Soon after the rat infestation was discovered, the son was transported to a local hospital and the unit’s locks were changed. He was later released and he is believed to be nearby, living in a hotel just a few blocks away from Unit 3R, according to court documents.

“All these conditions occurred during his occupancy,” Tine, Wala Chorbachi’s attorney, told the judge in the hearing on Monday. She had no reason to enter the $600,000 unit and signed an affidavit to that effect, he added.

Giles was incredulous. “And that negligence exonerates her? She’s a landlord.”

Giles asked Tine if the owner has homeowner’s insurance.

There is no insurance, Chorbachi told her lawyer, who relayed her answer to the judge.

Giles said often an owner is required to have homeowners’ insurance with a mortgage.

“From what I understand, there is no mortgage,” Tine said.

The judge ruled in favor of Mazer, granting a writ of attachment on the property for $150,000, half of the amount Mazer was asking for. Giles left the door open to revisiting the case if more information comes to light.

“Clearly, she has a son with these special needs, but unfortunately he allowed this apartment go to waste,” Giles said.

top  contents  chapter  previous  next