Lord of the Sties

Anwar Faisal has built an empire renting to the city’s college students, but he hasn’t been so good at making sure his apartments are actually habitable.

anwar-faisal-worst-landlord-boston-1

Photograph by Dana Smith. Illustration by Chris Piascik.

One afternoon in September, I set out to find Anwar Faisal, the most notorious landlord in Boston. Faisal, the owner of Alpha Management, is a major landlord in the Fenway and Allston, catering mostly to students, though if you believe his tenants, there are as many rats under his roofs as undergraduates. Faisal is also one of the most prolific instigators of tenant complaints to Boston’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD), a renter’s only recourse when he or she can no longer stand a landlord’s negligence. The stuff of Faisal’s tenants’ complaints is biblical: mice so plentiful that tenants resort to killing them with the back of a frying pan, bedbug infestations that drive tenants to abandon all of their possessions, cockroaches scurrying audibly in the walls. There are ceiling leaks and broken window locks that result in break-ins, overflowing trash bins, lack of heat, and, of course, “dog-sized rats.”

In spite of this, Faisal is unrepentant. When tenants complain, he sometimes takes them to court, or springs rate hikes on them. More often than not, he simply ignores them until ISD forces him to act. In a 2008 consumer complaint filed with the Attorney General’s Office, one tenant described attempting to move into a Faisal apartment, only to find the room filled with garbage, with windows broken and doors off their hinges. “When we went to Alpha,” the person wrote, “we were told ‘to put my things on the sidewalk and wait for repairs like all the other students in Boston….’ [An Alpha Management representative] threw us out of the office and stated that he would see us in court.”

Over the years, Faisal’s audacious disregard for the agency has become legendary. In 2010, WBZ aired a report concerning a whopping 73 complaints that had been filed against him and his company over an 18-month period. In September 2012, the Boston Globe reported on a basement studio apartment that Alpha had rented to a Northeastern University student at 115 St. Stephens Street. “[C]ity inspectors found evidence of roaches, grime-caked walls and ceilings, exposed wires, and rusty pipes,” the Globe reported. The room had “no windows or other source of ventilation, no working carbon monoxide detector, and no emergency lighting.” In fact, Faisal didn’t even have a permit to use the space for housing—and yet, even when inspectors condemned the apartment, and the tenant’s Realtor returned the finder’s fee, Faisal initially refused to return the requisite first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit totaling $3,670. “We’ve had a problem with Anwar Faisal and his company’s noncompliance with our rental ordinance,” Dion Irish, the former housing inspection commissioner, told the paper. “This is probably one of the worst cases, but the issues we’ve had with him have been systematic.”

But what sets Faisal apart from other slumlords isn’t just the sheer number of complaints against him, or his unblinking disregard for cleanliness and safety—it’s also the nature of the complaints themselves. Reading through hundreds of pages of them, I’ve come to think of them as their own sordid literary genre—tales so outrageous, sad, and awful that they occasionally drift into unintentional comedy. I pored over dozens of prime examples, and as I read them, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On February 14, 2012, a tenant named Kelsey Hallman sent a six-page letter to Alpha Management—later filed with the Attorney General’s Office—that read in part:

On our September 1, 2011 move-in date, we arrived to four separate mattresses marked: “Bed Bugs! DO NOT TOUCH!” and marked with city caution signs…. Within the coming hours, we spoke with the individuals who were scheduled to move into a unit but were unable to as the previous tenants had moved out and left all of their belongings in the apartment. The individuals we spoke with indicated they had found a note that said, “Sorry we didn’t move our things out. The apartment was filled with cockroaches and bedbugs.” Immediately upon moving in we could tell that the apartment had not been sufficiently cleaned despite paying a $250 cleaning deposit…[there was] a noticeable foul odor coming from the kitchen common space…mold and mildew covering a large part of the bathroom ceiling, exposed wiring in one closet…no smoke detector nor carbon detector and the windows would not lock properly…. Early in the morning, [another tenant] called AMC and was immediately hung up on…. Shortly thereafter, we determined that the apartment had mice…. Nonetheless, I began to show signs of bed bug bites….

Faisal’s document trail doesn’t end at ISD. I also tracked down 14 complaints taken to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Boston Housing Court records show that Faisal has had 31 cases reach a show-cause hearing since 2009, two of which resulted in his arraignment. (Typically, a landlord has up to 90 days to fix the problem; he or she is arraigned if it still isn’t resolved.) He’s been the defendant or plaintiff in a total of 60 cases over the past 13 years. The woman behind the desk at housing court actually rolled her eyes when I mentioned his name—oh, that Faisal guy again?

The more I read, the more I wanted to meet the person who was responsible for this one-man real estate apocalypse. What kind of landlord could stomach this parade of anguish, destruction, filth, and fury, season after season, year after year? I also figured I ought to act fast. In a time when Boston’s real estate market is becoming big business, drawing large corporate entities to the city’s many luxury high-rise projects, lone and negligent landowners such as Faisal are a dying breed. Before he and his kind vanished forever, I wanted to get an inside look at this rarified world.

 

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  • dz0

    Could you not refer to undergraduates as “girls,” please?

    • guest

      while that’s a valid point, was this all you got out of this 5 page article?

      • dz0

        Is this school? Am I required to write a 5-paragraph response to everything I read? I’m just against the casual infantilization of women, so I commented on it.

        • Angry Greek

          And besides, no offense, that type of pedantic assertiveness would only encourage a would-be “infantilizer.” I’m sure you’re a nice girl IRL though :) (said in jest…)

        • orenstern

          I think “chicks” may have been a better word choice. But young women are girls just as well as they are chicks, so either one of those are fine enough. Its not a Better Homes article afterall

          • mplo

            “Chicks” a better word choice? No, not really, imho. It’s still an insulting term for a girl or a woman.

      • Angry Greek

        why would anyone down-rate this???

    • Angry Greek

      It’s common in the Bostonian “dialect” to refer to young adults as “kids” and to call young women “girls” and young men “boys” i.e. you are basically suggesting that calling undergraduates girls is somehow worse than the tribulations of an entire class of residents. Get a grip on yourself.

      • dz0

        “At first the boys were a bit skeptical, clearly concerned for their personal safety.”

        Say that aloud, keeping in mind that it refers to male undergraduates; does it sound like natural speech to you? Face it, there is no way the author would have ever written that. It is not a matter of dialect.

        BTW, you are presenting a false choice, that I can only care about one group at a time–EITHER screwed-over renters OR women. Except, I’m a member of both of those classes.

        • Carleen LeBlanc

          Calm down, ma’am.

          • Angry Greek

            that’s probably what i should have said lol

        • Angry Greek

          not sure if you are trolling or serious

          There’s nothing wrong with the example sentence that you provided. Except that it’s taken out of context. The gender-swap in the analogy does not translate very well. In 2014 society, there are yet important differences in the genders. Two college boys would probably not be afraid of their safety upon being visited by a disheveled middle-aged Arab lady and her younger associate. But they might be!

          Your sense of natural speech is subjective and by no means authoritative. “Face it?” I’m sorry you’ll have to do better than that. Are you an
          expert on dialects? I grew up in and around Boston for 27 years. I am also an amateur scholar of history and linguistics. That you wouldn’t consider dialect as a factor of the tone or lexicon of an editorial article, is questionable to say the least!

          The false choice, well I think it’s more of a misinterpretation. I didn’t mean to suggest a
          dichotomy between gender equality and housing equality. I merely pointed out the obvious, which is that your comment was irreverent to the subject of the editorial and subsequent commentary.

          Further, let me assert that, while being an undergraduate might be a personal accomplishment, it does not bestow any honor on an individual or cause them to be distinguished in any meaningful way, except perhaps from an economic perspective. In other words, it is entirely unnecessary to use special honorific language when addressing or discussing an undergraduate. A girl does not
          become a woman by attending college, or even by graduating. So that she should enjoy some kind of privilege of distinction, is absurd.

          Keep in mind, I don’t know you, and this argument is not meant to be disrespectful or hurtful. I respect that you may have some sensitivity to these issues, but I argue nonetheless, with regard to fact.

    • Lyndsay

      Yes, we prefer the terms broad, dame, or damsel.

  • Chris

    So why don’t they take his shit via emminent domain as a threat to the health and welfare of the city. Problem solved.

    • jake481

      Because this is America.

      What we really have to look into is the inspectional services not stopping this guy. There’s institutionalized corruption in Boston.

      • Lyndsay

        Exactly!! What seemed apparent to me while I was reading the article was this guy’s clearly got some people in government on the payroll, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to get away with it the way he does.

        • jake481

          Follow the money.

          The problem is the people making the complaints are generally only in Boston or there apartments for a short time. No one cares if you’re only in town for a few months and you get taken advantage of.

  • John

    Why would someone ever pay for, or move into an apartment without checking it out first? Did they not see the rats the first time?

    • Kelly

      I rented an Alpha apartment once. They showed us a nice apartment and we said we wanted it. They called a few weeks later saying that that unit was no longer available but that all the units in the buildings were the same so they were just giving us another that we hadn’t seen. We were kind of screwed if we didn’t take it because we needed somewhere to live. When we moved in it wasn’t cleaned, the windows were old and broken, and overall, it was just dirty. Luckily, it sounds like we lucked out and those were all of our problems (that after 6 months of living there, we got them to fix).

      I assume that what happened to me happens all the time with Alpha and these people might not have even seen what they were signing up for. Really unfortunate and shady.

    • beenwiser

      There comes a point where you HAVE to rent SOMETHING or else you’re homeless. If X number of rental units in the area are slums, then X number of tenants in the area are living in a slum. There is an infinite number of potential problems with a rental unit, and most of these problems are difficult or impossible for a tenant-to-be to find in a single walk-through. Meanwhile, management is fielding multiple phone calls from tenants explicitly identifying problems in apartments, no sleuthing required. Instead of addressing problems adequately, management will often paint over a water stain without fixing a leak, or bug bomb one unit in their infested building right before its shown. Thats where the ISD and the courts come in- they can hold someone like Faisal accountable in a way that a series of individual consumers generally can’t/won’t. Market forces are determining what we get and what we give, but these market forces include more than just individual negotiations between any one buyer and one seller- regulation and enforcement exert force in a marketplace, organized groups (tenants associations, labor unions, etc) can exert a force on a market, and so on. The idea that a market is nothing but one buyer and one seller meeting as equals is just simplistic and delusional

    • jake481

      I guess you didn’t move to a different city across the country when YOU went to college, huh?

      Thousands of kids move into apartments they’ve never seen before every single year in Boston. It’s literally impossible to inspect a new apartment when you’re an 18 year old moving from Akron to Boston to go to college.

  • billy boy

    This guy belongs in jail! Maybe our new mayor will go after this guy! What a sleaze!!

  • VSanity

    If people keep supporting the ridiculously high rent in Boston/MA this will be the result. Stop saying “Who cares if the buildings are old, it’s historic!”. All you’re doing is letting the slumlords walk all over you.

    • beenwiser

      Why should we expect each individual tenant-to-be (often someone who’s never negotiated a contract or fought a court case in their life) to outwit each landlord-to-be (often someone who has been dealing with tenants, inspectors and lawyers for decades)? Most of the force currently being exerted on Boston’s housing market is that mismatched battle of wits, and the results are apparent- big real estate companies are making big profits without adequately maintaining properties.

      To really change this market requires that more force be exerted from other directions. We need a stronger more active ISD that is fully authorized by law to take *effective* action. If occasional inspections and small fines aren’t enough, then there should be more inspections and larger fines. We tenants need to be teaming up with our neighbors- a penny-pinching slumlord might push out and replace one complaining tenant, but if its an entire building full of complaining tenants maybe they have to resort to actually making repairs on their property. Maybe where an individual tenant found it too difficult to get their individual legal remedy, a group of tenants might have more success with a class-action law suit. If the only way we know to exert force in this economy is to vote with our dollars, then the wealthiest among us will win every time.

    • mplo

      Yup. That’s very true, VSanity. It’s a drag to seem like one’s blaming the victim(s), but anybody who insists on living in housing that’s so unsafe and so full of unfixed code violations just to save money is really risking his/her limb and life, and setting him or herself up for all kinds of abuse, and being taken advantage of by slumlords.

  • ProPeople

    The reporter could look up info by going to Boston Assessing and entering the name Faisal for a long list of properties.

  • Guest

    Unbelievable that any landlord would enter an apartment without proper notice to the tenants. I don’t blame those women for being suspicious.

    • commenty_mcgee

      If you’ve ever rented in the Boston area it’s entirely believable. Although still ridiculous, very believable.

  • Guest

    Unbelievable that he would enter an apartment without prior notice to the tenants. I do not blame those women for being suspicious.

    • RC

      When my husband and I went apartment hunting a number of years back, the people showing us apartments knocked on the door of one where the occupant clearly hadn’t been given prior notice and another one where no-one was home when they knocked and they joked, oh they won’t mind! Yeah, after that we ditched that rental company and started the search with a different one.

  • asdf

    The problem with the apartment at the end sounds familiar. I know someone that lived in a NEU area property Alpha owned. The bathroom ceiling caved in onto the bathtub.

    • KC

      Rented with Alpha last school year in Allston, and the scenario from the end of the article happened to me almost word for word, only difference was it was our living room ceiling. We got the exact same line about the shower and the ensuing “we gave them new shower curtains” bit the next day.

  • Roger Nicholson

    His real office is in a basement on Linden Street in Allston. He also does not dress as dapper when conducting business. What’s also missing is the picture of himself and PLO leader/terrorist Yassar Arrafat that used to be proudly displayed for all to see.

    • boston10

      You are misinformed about yassar arrafat and the PLO it seems.

      • Angry Greek

        The US government classified the PLO as a terrorist organization until 1991. I wonder what year the picture was taken.

    • Angry Greek

      Visiting that office was a trip! It looks like a freaking Al Quaeda recruiting post.

    • orenstern

      Yeah, his real office does have a TV silently scrolling financial info, to the left of it is a university degree and beneath it is a 20-year old shit pile of disheveled documents and open drawers.

    • mplo

      First of all, Arafat is dead. Secondly, maybe Faisal wants to at least come off as being what he’s really not…a decent human being and a law-abiding citizen.

  • Guest

    Unfortunately the real worst landlords are the ones you never hear about… the ones whose houses in Allston burn down, etc. Wonder why the ISD guy wouldn’t name any of them.

  • Caleb Hutchings

    When living at 23 Brook Street in Brookline, Alpha threw out all the trash from a previous tenant on the back porch. Included was an entire frozen, soon to be thawed, turkey. This brought every rat to our back door, which they ate through. I personally killed 6 rats in the apartment and could hear them crawling through the walls and ceiling at night. A torrential downpour also produced a significant leak in our ceiling which, after several requests, still went lacking of repairs resulting in a mold problem. I had to go to the Linden Street office and corner the office workers to have them send someone directly over begin repairs. For good reason, many realtors won’t show Alpha apartments.

  • Lauryn Paiva

    Reading this article, I could actually feel myself suffering from PTSD-esque flashbacks. I rented an apartment in the basement of 115 St Stephen (mentioned in the article) and it was, without reservation, the worst year of my life. We had cockroaches everywhere, heat that couldn’t be controlled (I once wore a t-shirt outside in January just to escape the 87 degree apartment), and even a dead rat we discovered buried in the floorboards of the kitchen. We filed numerous complaints, all of which were disregarded or brushed off. We finally had inspectors from the board of health come in, and we ended up moving out early and refusing to pay rent, as we were advised to do by the city. Personal opinion? Have this guy live in one of his own apartments and see how long he lasts. My guess is by the end of the day, the refugee camp back in Gaza will be looking pretty good.

  • gd

    Disturbing but not surprising. When so many complaints can be filed against a slumlord without any meaningful change or consequence, then there really is no recourse for tenants. While I’ve never had the misfortune of renting from Alpha, when I moved to Boston for grad school I had two weeks to find a rental and moved into a similarly filthy and mismanaged apartment without seeing it first. The bathroom ceiling collapsed my first night, and there were mice and trash everywhere. I was lucky (perhaps cowardly) and was able to break my lease and secure on-campus housing before long, but most of the people in my building did not have that luxury. Those without another housing option can’t actually depend on the ISD to be effective.

  • ProPeople

    The number of college students who can’t get on campus housing has created an approaching crisis for residents who are priced out of living in Boston.
    Colleges should be required to house students on their campuses, period. Colleges that have the money to buy buildings on the Commons or build stadiums or concert halls, have the money to build dormitories. I don’t mean the luxury dorms that many are building now so that they can enhance their own revenue streams, I mean housing their students on their own campuses. And I don’t mean buying more taxable land and depriving the city of more revenue. Unless this happens, Boston will become more and more unaffordable to all but those in the highest income brackets.
    And landlord like Faisal, or any that live outside of Boston, must have their properties taxed at business rates. Because of his is not a business. then nothing is. (I realize that he doesn’t get the residential exemption but that’s peanuts compared to the money he is making.) Part of the money the city makes can go to ISD to ensure that properties are safe and to cover the myriad services the city provides.
    We don’t need an economist to figure out what happens if Boston becomes an investor-owned and non-profit owned city.

    • Guest

      Any multifamily landlord is taxed at commercial rates, with the possible exception of a house that the landlord lives in. As you alluded to, the universities don’t pay taxes on the land they own, even for dorms that cost students’ parents thousands a month. Under Menino’s PILOT program, they are requested to voluntarily pay money or show “community benefits.”

    • commenty_mcgee

      The real problem is that colleges build these dorms where you share a bedroom with someone and don’t have a kitchen or a bathroom and they still charge you $1,000 a month. After a couple years of that BS a slumlord rented apartment starts to look like a better proposition. Also, as big as a scumbag as Faisal is, I imagine he still pays the increased commercial property tax rate. Colleges… not so much…

      • Vig

        You are making a good point about schools charging top $ for dorm rooms, and not paying real estate tax.

        I am going to be a bit pedantic: For all single or multifamily housing, it’s the same residential tax rate in Boston: $1.258 per $1000 of assessed value. The commercial rate is only for businesses, and it’s $3.118 per $1000

    • mplo

      What an excellent post, ProPeople! If colleges and universities were required to house students on their own campuses, that would be far better. The fact that colleges and universities continue to encroach into nearby neighborhoods is a disgrace and has contributed greatly to overcrowding and other problems mentioned in this series. Moreover, the continued, deep encroachment of colleges and universities into nearby neighborhoods has really helped create a breeding ground for slumlords like Anwar Faisal and other slumlords like him, to really take advantage of what has amounted to a crisis situation here in the city of Boston and take liberty and license to abuse people whenever he feels like it.

      I also might add that while some landlords do take care of their properties and give a decent shake to their tenants, an awful lot of them (possibly the majority of them), unfortunately, don’t. That’s a huge problem.

  • Angry Greek

    I also have a laundry list of bad experiences with Alpha, having rented with them for 2 years. The long and short of it, we had all kinds of different problems, ranging from maintenance, pest control, various unannounced visitors, letting themselves in to my 300 square foot apartment that I shared with my girlfriend without even so much as a knock at the door first, etc. I sent them a written complaint and somewhere within there I made a slightly unethical argument along the lines of “If you were a gun owner, and a strange person entered your home unannounced, while you were in bed and your wife was in the shower, what would you do?” So after that, our experience with Alpha was much better, but still dismal at best.

    • Angry Greek

      btw i would never advocate unlawful or irresponsible gun ownership. but if somebody put a gun in anwar faisal’s face, i would not be upset about it.

  • tickyul

    Most…………..MOST apartment and rental living is CRAPPPPPP. In theory, I would be fine renting for the rest of my life. Reality……living right next to loud idiots, SMOKERS, pigs…..darn, guess I have to buy a place. And yes, MOST management and owners are worthless.

  • Turdo Ross

    I am surprised someone hasnt just taken the loser out yet. Off with his head!

    GetzDatAnon.tk

  • FIRKIN X

    This article is good but a very long read! I stayed in Boston in 2005 which attending college there. My crappy place was under Sabet Management who also sport a lot of dirty tactics! Hopefully this new law will clean up the city’s dirty rental market. Especially in the Back Bay area. Their apartments, if not well kept, become absolutely unlivable.

    I’D SUGGEST to anyone planning on going to school in Boston to get a place outside of the city and take the SUBWAY in the city to your school! You’ll save an insane amount of money and avoid all these sleazy inner-city apartment managers.

    Don’t get me wrong, living in Boston was a lot of fun. But, if I could do it again I would definitely get a rental outside of the city–no doubt.

    • Jesse

      I lived in a Sabet Management apartment in 2005 as well, and they were awful. They sent us eviction notices twice due to their own bookkeeping mistakes, and they refused reasonable maintenance requests. I’ve had four terrible landlords in Boston and Cambridge, and one good one: Bobson Realty. If I needed an apartment again, I would call them.

  • CCCrazyPannda

    3rd world asshole brings his 3rd world living standards with him. He should be deported. This is the future of America unless we set better standards for immigration.

  • Ralphus

    Put this animal in prison where he belongs! Subhuman garbage! Deport him back to whatever terrorist piece of crap country he comes from!

  • Andrew

    I see this kind of attitude in nationalized citizens and new arrivals in my line of work all the time. See, where they came from, where ever they came from, they fundamentally have less rights as both a person as we do in Canada and the US. And as such they have a fundamentally different perception of what rights and freedoms are than people who in the Western world almost take for granted. Rational American’s and Canadian’s would exercise their rights respecting the rights of others. These people get their freedom but than think “If I can, than why can’t I”?

  • http://tklist.net/ TKList

    The best and fastest way to get Anwar Faisal to change his ways is to move out and stop paying him rent.

    • David

      But that won’t happen. He is obviously a good business man and he owns hundreds of desirable apartments. Influence him. As valid as the mean comments are it will not help. We should try to get Anwar to support us, education, and the great city we live. Maybe he just doesn’t have that influence? Can someone get him to understand?

      • http://tklist.net/ TKList

        Competition is what Anwar Faisal understands and what influences him.

        • David

          Don’t get me wrong. D BAG fucker

          • David

            but really he probably just feeds off of this attention

      • Tim Smith

        you sound like a liberal trying to negotiate with terrorist. can’t we all just be a happy family? the guys is a scumbag. nothing will change him. he will always resort to his ways.

    • orenstern

      Faisal may have read William Carlos Williams:

      “As if the earth under our feet
      Were an excrement of some sky

      And we degraded prisoners destined
      To hunger until we eat filth”

      Every year its proven true—people dont rent those units as their first choice. These are absolute last choice units. But someone always bites on the shit sandwich, believing location is better choice than quality of housing.

    • commenty_mcgee

      It’s not like the other landlords in Boston are much better.

      • http://tklist.net/ TKList

        That means there is an opportunity there, save your money, find people like yourself to save money, buy your first apartment complex and be a better landlord.

  • Guest

    The number of ignorant comments here that focus on the man’s ethnicity are really incredible. Like it or not, he came to the country with nothing. Research any of the other big Boston landlords and you will find similar life stories and complaints. It’s not like Allston college kids who party hard every weekend are the most respectful tenants anyway. If you want to live in the hottest parts of Boston on the cheap with 3 roommates, don’t be shocked when it’s not a luxury pad. If you don’t like it, go rent a pristine apartment on the waterfront built by a huge corporation for $3000-$4000/mo (no roommates and please show proof of 100k+ income).

    • David

      Talking about ignorance, you just defined it.

      • David

        I have researched other boston landlords, and in fact this man has more complaints than all of them. Many of his apartments are not in Allston and to suggest that all of his tenants “party” and don’t want or deserve an apartment in decent condition is absurd. The apartments around these colleges are some of the most desirable areas of the city and do go for 3000-4000 a month themselves. And saying that, I would much prefer to rent an apartment from a big corporation by the waterfront that actually maintains its facilities.

    • orenstern

      In every neighborhood that Alpha has property are several other Super landlords who are offering higher quality housing with superior maintenance programs for comparable rents. You dont need to make 100K plus to enjoy a first work standard. I earn a living helping folks choose the right housing. I’ve never leased an Alpha and I never will—but I’ve shown the property plenty of times. Its punishment to live there—for not acting early enough, or choosing the right broker, or asking enough questions—you pay to be punished when renting an Alpha. This has nothing to do with ethnicity. Boston rental housing is a game of musical chairs an Alpha property is the chair with mildew hepatitis ridden seat cushions covered with tacks—when the music stops, you’re better off standing than taking that last absurd parody of a seat

      • Rust Cohle

        Oren, stop peddling those “act fast” realtor platitudes… you’re just trying to scare tenants into renting and it’s extremely irresponsible. All realtors are slime in Boston unless they know you personally.

        • orenstern

          There was no ‘act fast’ statement in my comment. Read it again please, Mr. Fictitious Character alias man. It is true though—lots of people end up getting stuck with an Alpha when other more suitable housing gets taken by folks who got there first—that’s pretty much the only reason why they’re still in business. Most nicely managed buildings end up turning over 25-30% of their units each year, which is normal and average. Alpha turns over 40-50% of their units. Every year Half the building decides to leave. So—take what you will of this—but a real estate agent coming out publicly against a landlord to say “Don’t Do It”—that’s the opposite of slime, dude.

    • James Garten

      100K income does not go very far in the Boston area.

    • mplo

      It’s agreed that Anwar Faisal’s race and ethnicity aren’t the central issue here, and they shouldn’t be, but Anwar Faisal has absolutely no business playing the race card when he’s been confronted, especially by city officials and inspectors, of his failure of civic duty; getting his properties fixed so that they’re decent places to live in, rather than unsafe hellholes.

  • Guest
    • orenstern

      Definitely not the same story. Hamilton is far superior to Alpha in many ways, and so Brown is to Faisal. First off, Hamilton has five times the residential units. Second, Hamilton is capable of management property for a wide spectrum of income levels, from low-to-moderate to luxury. Third, 9 out of 10 Hamilton units can pass a state inspection, no problem—its 1 out of 10 for Alpha. Fourth, Hamilton is respected by the brokerage community, Its units are proudly shown and considered one show rentals, while Alpha is merely tolerated and show mostly as fluffers for better units an as warnings for what will happen to you if you fail to jump on the better deals. The folks who might have a complaint about hamilton’s management would literally commit suicide the first night in an Alpha, while an Alpha resident would think they died and went to heaven in a hamilton unit

      • Guest

        wow Robert, looks like your business has plenty of bad reviews of its own!

        “Don’t work with these people – they are slime!”

        “The experience was ATROCIOUS.”

        “I’ve moved apartments every year for the last 5 years…I have and I can deal with a lot of BS from realtors. However, this is one place I will NEVER return to.”

        “Also, their office smelled like BO.”

        “Bad business, use any other RE Agency except Cambridge Realty Group”

        “Also, my realtor told me to forward date a check – THAT’S STRAIGHT UP ILLEGAL.”

        http://www.yelp.com/biz/cambridge-realty-group-cambridge?sort_by=date_desc

        Stay classy bro! Not surprised you’re stuck at that dump…

        • orenstern

          We’ve had more than twice as many positive reviews, including 16 5-star reviews, filtered out by Yelp’s ridiculous algorithm: http://www.yelp.com/not_recommended_reviews/aOMVY6A2y4P35gZGIS4TdQ

          As for the negative ones—opinions do vary. But the “Forward date/illegal accusation/person who called us slime” was somehow alienated when an agent suggested that if she couldn’t afford the finder’s fee now that she post-date a check for when she could afford to pay and we’d rent her the apartmment then. Its not illegal to forward date a check. The woman complained about realtor BS and office BO office was retaliating for being stood up by an agent who’s mother died that day. The others are about agents who are no longer affiliated with the company.

  • Tim Smith

    Sounds like he his just replicating life in his home country where the respect for life and standards of life are much lower. Obviously our system is broken, and we can’t even get American standards in place. This his how people live in the region he is from. squalor is common place. He is just bringing his region’s culture to America. He maybe even hates American’s as well. And before people call me a hater, I am just calling him what he is. I don’t do what he does to people. He sounds pretty mental and evil. “You can suffer like I “had” to suffer! Welcome to my world b1tches!”

  • Johny Green

    He is not the worst landlord. He is just taking advantage of an inept city enforcement and uninformed uncaring tenants that have no long term stake in the community. If you want to look a worst landlord. Look at Stamatos property all over the city, rented to drug traffickers, gang members and illegal rooming houses all over the city minorities neighborhoods.

    • J Lorenzo

      sorry johnny but this is white peoples problems, complaining they saw a mouse or a bug. no one here cares about poor or minority peoples REAL safety issues or their landlords

      • Angry Greek

        I think you’re underestimating the importance of unethical business practices… Perhaps this discussion doesn’t really care about the worst of the worst or the more permanent “poor” “minorities” and tbh personally I don’t feel so bad for these students who most of them are paying rent with their parents money,, and in a sense anwar Faisal is a genius tapping in to that market to get rich… But it’s still not right, it’s still a problem. The middle class isn’t gonna fix the poors problem until they fix their own (edited for typo)

      • wolfndeer

        Yeah, because students are all white. Makes sense.

    • Angry Greek

      He might not be the worst but it’s still a problem

  • disqus_SUhM8OvTFy

    As a previous tenant and hardworking realtor I can honestly say this article barely scratches the surface. These guys are BAD people.

  • Guest

    I think some of these “Boston college students” might need to go back to mommy and daddy’s basement… “PTSD”? Really? Your lives are incredibly luxurious compared to most people, get a grip and get over it.

    • commenty_mcgee

      Yeah, every college student from your generation worked part time to put themselves through school but every college kid now comes from a world of amazing wealth and privilege. That makes sense.

  • Guest

    Now ask yourself why Northeastern University has master leases with Alpha?

  • Brian Rosa

    This is the logical conclusion to treating housing as an abstract commodity rather than a right that all people deserve. It’s not some sort of aberration, but the same sort of rentier behavior that’s been occurring in US cities since for over a century.

  • sqwirk

    More people need to start reporting guys like this. I went through hell with no heat, huge roaches, mice (though my cat took care of those), a stove that never worked, and a leaky roof when I lived at 1027 Comm Ave. Philco Commonwealth Trust was the landlord, I never got a full name (“Syros” is all I had to go off of). I’m kicking myself for not going to the health department. In these apartments, you’re paying for the convenience but it doesn’t have to be like that. Put up a fight!

  • omar

    this guy is a greedy SOB, I know him, he will sell his mother for 5 bucks, he should be in jail

    • mplo

      The fact that Anwar Faisal even had the unmitigated audacity to start playing the race card when he was confronted by city officials with his wrongdoing is even more revealing of what a disgusting human being he really is. People like that not only fan the flames of racism and bigotry in here in Boston and the United States in general, but make it hard for decent, law-abiding people who have legitimate grievances that need to be redressed through Civil Rights laws/anti-discrimination programs to obtain the necessary protection against prejudice and discrimination that many people so often need.

  • coldflame

    Northeastern University has leases with Alpha, but their problems go away, as once NEU takes over the building or leases it, maintenence problems are directed to facilities, not Alpha. I once had the lovely experience of having the heat turned off in my apartment during Nemo last year, and then having a recorded heat in my apartment of 56 degrees. I called and called, they did nothing, ISD came out, and magically heat worked the next day. Playing hardball and paying less for rent by quoting law actually worked. Just don’t take his shit and threaten to sue him, he’s not so tough then.

    • Guest

      LOL

    • wolfndeer

      Unfortunately, that’s what you have to do.

  • BigDick9

    More people need to start reporting guys like this. I went through hell with no heat, huge roaches, mice (though my cat took care of those), a stove that never worked, and a leaky roof when I lived at 1027 Comm Ave. Philco Commonwealth Trust was the landlord, I never got a full name (“Syros” is all I had to go off of). I’m kicking myself for not going to the health department. In these apartments, you’re paying for the convenience but it doesn’t have to be like that. Put up a fight!

  • Lyndsay

    It’s not just student areas like Allston and the Fens. I’m a 30something professional who found an affordable place in Brookline with 2 roommates my age. Word of advice: Brookline brownstones are NOT worth the rent. They are extremely old and mouse-ridden. Despite keeping our apartment spotless and despite our landlord having pest control come out several times a year, we still could not get rid of them, The basement of the building was like a haunted house – the ceiling was caving in with wiring everywhere and was perpetually flooded. The landlord had actually tried to patch the ceiling with cardboard – yes, cardboard!!! We noticed that our floors were actually separating from the walls and creating huge cracks for rodents to sqeeeze in through, and we couldn’t keep up with steel wool patchwork before we’d see it in another section of the apartment. Our bathroom floor had a huge hole that looked like it had been patched with clay. And the “garage” that our landlord was charging $200 a month to park in was nothing more than a crumbling stack of bricks, the spots themselves barely wide enough to fit a smartcar, and the roof caving in, which had been precariously “patched” with plastic tarping, so you never felt quite okay with leaving your car there. The problem is that Boston is a very old city with very old crumbling foundations and structural damage to buildings that have never been properly repaired, especially in these brownstones built in the 1920s up and down Comm Ave and Beacon St, because they’ve always been rentals managed by companies who say, eh, they’re rentals, we don’t need to invest real money to do more than put a band-aid on them. A friend of ours in the same area – Washington Square – lived in a similar building with mice problems so bad that the landlord was told to fix them within 2 months or the property would be condemned. People need to start calling the Health Department and complaining if the landlord gets pest control out there and the problem isn’t fixed, and get more buildings condemned so that the real problems get investments. Location really shouldn’t be everything – it is NOT worth over a grand a month for mouse droppings and fire hazards, just to live on the Green line. Go outside of the big Northeast cities and see how well, for example, people in Atlanta are living for MUCH less rent. (When it comes to buy, I’ll be taking my investment down south to get what I could get for a cool mil here for about $300k there.) I’ll add that my roomies and I finally moved out after nonstop problems and an unwarranted rent increase. I told my mother who is a realtor that our landlord was crazy to think he could get what he was asking for in rent from anyone who actually viewed the place, and she said “he will get it, because he CAN.” These guys charge so much because we’re willing to pay it. Demand better and move out of the area and put your money elsewhere, and the market will respond in return. Also, I wonder who in the housing court Faisal is paying off, because isn’t there more they can do legally than fine him? Shouldn’t he be facing more legal sanctions or have his licensure revoked or something? It seems really ridiculous that he’s allowed to continue to sully the real estate market with his rodent-infested tenements unimpeded.

    • Guest

      So who was your landlord?

      • Lyndsay

        Jerry Kampler. To be honest, he works hard and tries hard, and manages it for condo owners who rent. I don’t mean to disrepute him, he’s not a bad guy. His places are owned by absentee condo owners who then rent to us, and won’t pay for repairs that are the problem, and Jerry can’t invest money he doesn’t have. He’s invested a lot of money to these places in Brookline, but before he had them they were owned by people who did not repair them properly and he has to fix decades of neglect and bad repair. So it would be unfair for me to blame him when it was just absentee owners with tenants for decades who didn’t invest for the right repairs or foundation work. I am firmly convinced its foundation work and structural damage that’s gone neglected for too long that is responsible for all the rodent issues in Brookline right now.

  • Lyndsay

    Also, a common response now from landlords, when you complain about rodent infestation multiple times, is to tell you to get a cat.That should be a red flag that you have a lazy landlord. It’s an awesome solution if you aren’t deathly allergic to cats like I am. After my experiences living in this city the past few years, I’ve decided that the mice in this city are rising up and preparing for a takeover.

  • Joe Wolvek

    Great article, David! Anwar richly deserves this exposure. This guy was the most heinous landlord in town when I started doing real estate over 20 years ago, and it’s an unbelievable outrage that he’s still getting away with it. Maybe the Walsh administration will do what the Menino administration couldn’t or wouldn’t do and start enforcing our housing regulations.

  • Lyndsay

    Thank you so much for writing this story, by the way. Now I know to avoid Alpha Management Properties when looking for my next place. It is so hard to tell with apartments what is going to be a good experience or bad. I consider this article a warning to consumers and a real service to the community.

  • disqus_EOepSaiZi6

    Great article! What a disgusting person. One important point though. You claim that he’s a “dying breed” because the luxury market is on the up and up in Boston. Not true. The high prices are what enable slum
    lords. They enable him to charge what he likes and still get hoards of students applying desperately for his apartments. In this economic bind, it is more important than ever to regulate slum apartments and advocate for schools to house more of their students.

  • wolfndeer

    What a piece of trash.

  • as

    A disgusting human being. He reminds me of Tony Ferraro, a Cambridge landlord. They are of the same breed.

  • lee

    We need better tenant protections. Dirtbag slumlords like this guy put people’s live in danger. The slumlord who owns my home has a day job as assistant professor at Tufts University School of Public Health.

  • Tom Hardy’s Proctologist

    Why the hell is he allowed to be a landlord?

    • mplo

      That’s a good question, Tom Hardy’s Proctologist! This guy’s a dangerous guy, but he’s not the only one, though.

  • fl1nty

    Its a vicious downward spiral – colleges want to make more money which comes from more students which requires more housing which is expensive if taken on campus which forces them to move off campus which jacks up the rents of the off campus housing which forces students to over crowd these houses which enables realtors to jack up the rent further since the students are some how managing to pay the increased rents which forces more over crowding and eventually leading to one of the incidents that happened in the recent past(fires in houses and deaths of students).

    Comes down to economic incentive – everybody involved in the racket stands to either make or save money by participating in the system except for those outside the system who are also looking to rent a place or buy property since the rates are unaffordable for non players in this game and the city as a whole loses as well since there are laws being broken and the overall experience of city life goes down.

    No wonder Northeastern isn’t very forthcoming with cooperation in this matter. They are making out like bandits