Judge orders Greenfield landlord to board attic tenants in hotel

  • WIGHT

Staff Writer
Published: 1/19/2020 4:49:34 PM

 

GREENFIELD — Judge Robert G. Fields warned a local landlord on Friday against being found in contempt of court before again ordering him to lodge his two attic tenants in a hotel until repairs are made to his Conway Street house.

Douglas Sky Wight has now three times been ordered to pay to lodge the tenants while the building is brought into compliance with safety regulations. There were identical orders given Dec. 9 and Jan. 3, made at those times to last until the next scheduled appearance in Western Housing Court within the Franklin County Justice Center in Greenfield.

Fields has explained to Wight that he is responsible for his tenants’ safety and lodging. Greenfield Building Inspector Mark Snow sent Wight a cease-and-desist letter in October informing him the attic was not approved for living or sleeping, and the two tenants living there could no longer stay.

Each order has required Wight to pay the tenants a daily $75 food stipend in cash if the hotel selected does not have cooking facilities. Fields was unhappy Friday when attorney Roger Reid, who is representing the city, told him the two tenants have been living in a car the past couple of weeks, a claim Wight rebuts. On Jan. 3, Wight told Fields he had again booked a room at the Red Roof PLUS+ in South Deerfield, though he later canceled the reservation because he learned the rooms do not have cooking facilities and he could not afford both the room and the daily stipend.

Wight asked Fields if he could enter into the record a printed confirmation of the reservation he made, but Fields said that wasn’t necessary because he was made aware of the booking. Fields also said confirmation is irrelevant because Wight canceled the reservation.

“Mr. Wight, you are again at a crossroads. Take the right road, sir,” Fields advised. “The fact that you canceled (the reservation) is remarkable.”

Wight responded that he did so because the tenants said they did not want to stay at that particular hotel.

“I don’t believe you, sir,” Fields replied. He added that it is too cold outside for anyone to live out of a car right now.

Wight said all necessary repairs and improvements will be made by Jan. 23. The next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 24.

One of the tenants, Jacqueline Wilson, said she and her boyfriend have been searching for housing and are on the waiting list of a couple of different municipal housing authorities. Wight said he found a $440-per-month apartment in Athol, but Wilson refused to visit or make a call about it.

Wight also said it is untrue the two attic tenants have been living in a car. He said they have been living in the attic. However, Wilson’s mother took the stand and, under oath, said her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend have been staying in a vehicle. Wilson also said Wight issued her an eviction notice and that he said she owes him $1,500 in back rent. She denies this claim.

Another tenant said hostility between Wight and the attic tenants is negatively affecting his life. He also said the construction work needed to make the required improvements hinders his sleep.

According to Fields’ order, issued in writing, the attic tenants must diligently search for alternate housing, and repairs and renovations must be limited to between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wight must also refrain from touching any tenants’ belongings and from having anyone besides the five tenants listed as defendants living on the premises. A couple of the tenants accused Wight of entering their quarters illegally.

Wight has previously told the Greenfield Recorder he rents out rooms to the poor and homeless due to a desire to help them, having lived out of the back of a pickup truck for 10 years.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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