Peterborough joins Eco Village tenant suit

  • The now-vacant Walden Eco Village in Peterborough. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/14/2021 4:24:20 PM

The Town of Peterborough denied all claims alleged by Walden Eco Village landlord Akhil Garland after it became a third-party defendant in the ongoing lawsuit between Garland and former Eco Village tenants, according to court documents filed at the end of March.

Garland’s representatives alleged that the town knew and supported the activities on the Eco Village site and was therefore responsible for the damages claimed by the former tenants, who were evicted on five days’ notice in December 2020 after the town found safety and code violations on site, including missing building permits for eight of 15 total rental units. The Court agreed to add the town to the ongoing case on March 26. Peterborough’s lawyer, John Ratigan, declined to comment on the suit.

The case is ongoing. The tenants and Garland’s representatives attempted to sort out the tenants’ allegations, the site’s code violations according to the town, and how the two intersect during a hearing on a petition to attach on Wednesday.

“Even if the town turned a blind eye to this for years, they’re not permitted structures,” Hillsborough Superior Court North Judge Diane Nicolisi said, asking lawyer Steven Dutton to explain Garland’s responsibility to tenants, given that they weren’t allowed to live in their rentals once the town condemned them. The lack of a certificate of occupancy doesn’t appear to be the same thing as a breach of habitability according to law, Dutton said, reminding the judge that three out of the four tenants listed in the suit were renting month-to-month at the time of the eviction. Garland could have lawfully terminated all agreements had the town given him 30 days notice, he said.

If the motion to attach is approved, it could ensure the tenants can recover financial damages if there’s an eventual ruling in their favor, Bielagus said. A class action certification hearing for the case is coming up in June or later, he said. Between 50 and 60 tenants have lived at the Eco Village since its construction, he said.


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