Affordable housing has become hard to come by in the Boston area, and an elected official is talking about his own impending move.
Cambridge Councilor Burhan Azeem said he has a week to find a new home. He moved out of his old apartment with a new place lined up, only to find out it was going to be sublet to someone else.
“It’s been so difficult. I’ve been on Facebook groups, Craigslist, word of mouth, and so many times, like, you post a place online and you get six applicants in 30 minutes and it’s already taken “, Azeem said. “I got rejected after rejection and you can see the messages I received [saying] ‘Sorry, someone else applied first.'”
He chronicled his experience on Twitter, sharing screenshots of responses to his applications.
An e-mail warned him that a room offered at $1,000 a month was small, with no heating or window.
“There have been complaints of pests that have never been cleaned up. Some people have to pay their landlord their utilities, but their landlord pays the utilities late, so sometimes they have no water. hot and things like that for a few days,” Azim said. “There’s a real lack of tenant protections in a lot of these listings and how poorly managed they are.”
Her tweet caught the attention of Newburyport real estate agent Rachel Person Brook.
“So what you’re telling me is you want someone to pay $1,000 a month for a walk-in closet? That’s not legal,” she said in a TikTok video.
“It’s not a shock to me, especially with the demand out there, and the lack of inventory is affecting every aspect of real estate,” Person Brook said.
She says it can also make people desperate to find something, but recommends people do their research on rental companies and third-party sites.
“The number one tip I have for people looking for an apartment is don’t go it alone. Having representation is key, because you don’t know what you don’t know as a consumer, and that’s what I try to do on my TikTok try to educate consumers about their rights and what’s legal,” she said.
This experience renews Azeem’s focus on housing policy.
“The good part is we know the answer,” he said. “There are protections for tenants that we can get past, and there are things that we can do to create a lot more affordable housing in the city.”
In addition to his role as a city councilman, Azeem also works with the nonprofit Abundant Housing Massachusetts to address the regional housing crisis. As for his own housing situation, he hopes to find something soon.
“It’s really stressful,” he said. “I mean, I’ll be fine. At worst, I can have an Airbnb or something, but I really hope I don’t have to go.”