Owner of vacant house brought to court

EGLESTON SQ.—The owner of a vacant house at 25 Chilcott Place was taken to housing court by the Inspectional Services Department (ISD), following a police visit that found evidence of squatters inside the house.

During the May 21 hearing, the housing court judge ordered the owner of the house, Jamaica Plain resident John Darling, to have the house properly secured by June 5, after the Gazette’s deadline. Darling was also expected back in court on that date, ISD spokesperson Lisa Timberlake told the Gazette.

Darling was also ordered to secure the necessary permits for building code-required repairs by June 29.

“This has been a long time coming,” neighbor Susan Pranger told the Gazette. “The neighborhood is very anxious to see something happen with the house.”

Darling did not answer a Gazette phone call and his voicemail was full.

On May 20, police officers went to the house in response to a call reporting squatters. They found an unlocked front door and clothes and trash inside, according to a police report.

Photos provided to the Gazette by neighbor Michael Iceland also show a patio grill inside the house and metal spoons, candles and mirrors that could be drug paraphernalia.

“We’re hoping the court puts some pressure on [the owner] to make some changes,” said Pranger, who is chair of the Boston Landmark Commission. “It’s empty. It’s an unattractive nuisance.”

Darling has previously been cited by ISD for improper trash storage and overgrown weeds, as the Gazette previously reported.

Part of the issue is the unclear ownership of the property. According to ISD, the property is in mortgage foreclosure limbo: mortgage-holder Deutsche Bank hasn’t finalized the foreclosure.

“It’s an excellent piece of housing stock that’s going to rot,” neighbor Daniel Thomas told the Gazette.

The property has been on the Problem Properties list since last year. The list is maintained by the Jamaica Plain Problem Properties Committee—an advisory group of police, ISD and residents that identifies private properties for city inspectors to investigate.

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