Present safety reports, judge tells landlords

A Boston Housing Court judge has ordered the owners of an apartment building in Chinatown that was evacuated because of safety concerns earlier this month to provide comprehensive reports on the property from engineers by Monday or face fines, according to court documents.

The city’s Inspectional Services Department and Fire Department wrote a complaint against Alexander and Julie Szeto of Southborough last Wednesday calling for immediate correction of code violations in the five-story building at 19-25 Harrison Ave. and financial assistance for displaced residents.

Yesterday, a judge ordered the Szetos to hire a structural engineer and a fire engineer. The city had requested that the Szetos hire engineers when the building was evacuated on Feb. 8.


“This should send a clear message across all neighborhoods,’’ Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement yesterday. “We will not allow residents of Boston to live in substandard, dangerous, or unsanitary conditions, and we will hold landlords accountable for their decisions.’’

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

According to court documents, the judge cited multiple reasons for her ruling, saying it is likely that “the risk of harm to the residents of the property far outweighs the monetary harm to the defendants’’ and “there is an overwhelming public interest in the enforcement of the Building and Fire Codes.’’ According to court documents, the city and property owners are due back in court on March 3.

Firefighters responding to a false alarm at the property weeks ago first raised concerns about the structural integrity and safety of the apartment building.

Steve MacDonald, a Boston Fire Department spokesman, said on the day of the evacuation that the building was not in immediate danger of collapsing, but glaring issues such as missing structural beams in the basement gave firefighters reason to evacuate residents.

Court documents showed that approximately 45 residents were displaced. After the evacuation, tenants were housed at emergency shelters at city expense. The city said yesterday that all residents have been placed in permanent public housing.

Sampson can be reached at