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Mechanic Street House Condemned, Tenants Displaced

Landlord Used Phony Name And Business Address

With a phony name and an address that does not exist, the owner of the condemned house at 71 Mechanic St. in Pawcatuck is at once elusive and suspect.

“(She) looks shady,” Stonington First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr. said of Margaret Cullen, the woman named as the agent/owner of Shannon LLC, a Connecticut-based limited liability corporation with a Westerly post office box and a Westerly street address of 245 Route 1; there is no such address.

Stonington-Mystic Patch tried unsuccessfully to locate Cullen (and the other person listed on the corporation, Olwen Cullen) for comment.

“And she gave us a false name, Faukenstein-something. But we did get a marshal to find and catch up with her,” Haberek said.

Find her and serve her with notice of not just the condemnation of her three-apartment house but pending litigation.

“By law, she can be fined $500 a day and up to six months in
jail for every day (she’s out of compliance with state and local law). And she has long term outstanding taxes due to the fire district and they want to do a tax sale. So, there’s plenty of pending litigation,” Haberek said.

Not to mention the cost borne by the town to find temporary emergency housing for one of Cullen’s tenants.

“Those costs will go on a lien of the house,” Haberek said.

But the worst of it, he said, are the conditions under which three families were living that led to the condemnation last week.

In early August, Building Official Wayne Greene “noticed some hazardous equipment, wet (electrical) wires, unsanitary issues,” Haberek explained.

“Then I went with the fire marshal and I saw water and sewage leaking from the pipes: a really unsafe, unsanitary condition. They had young children and we didn’t want to see them on the street, so we relocated one family [the other two own their temporary housing].”

Greene declared the house "unsafe" and the tentants were ordered to vacate. 

Haberek said this is not the first time the town has dealt with this property owner, albeit usually via mail: “Oh, there’s a very thick
file.”

“There’s been a back and forth. A catch and release kind of thing where there’s been an issue, she gets it fixed but there’s always a problem; she had a plumber come in who wasn’t licensed. Like that."

Haberek said that the town “will use every means, all legal recourse on this case.”

“And no one will live in that house,” he said.

In the last Stonington revaluation, the house and land was assessed at $257K; appraised at $367K.

Two of the now-former tenants, who paid nearly $1,000 a month in rent, spoke with Haberek and one showed him her lease with Cullen.

“Just a one-page (lease), really a scrap of paper. Lucky it wasn’t written in crayon,” he said. “And they paid $980 in rent. It’s awful.”

Haberek vowed to “go after” property owners that rent apartments and houses that are not up to code or in compliance with state and
local building and housing laws.

“We’re looking at other landlords,” he warned.

Stonington-Mystic Patch was unable to locate displaced tenants for comment by press time.

Donna Pearlman August 22, 2011 at 07:13 PM
I consider myself very fortunate both to have excellent landlords who are fine upstanding business people with an active positive presence in not only their properties but the communities here, as well as local government that goes after those who are not scrupulous in managing their properties and tenants.
Dawn Nye January 26, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I am one of those tenants. This has been hell, not only was the house condemned but and we lived crammed into a hotel for 6 weeks. As we were ALL moving out, she came and threw ALL our stuff out in the rain. I lost $10,000 worth, and the first floor lost $30,000 worth. She has been arrested with 2 mis. charges & 2 felony charges. She swears she did nothing but a neighbor who saw her and her workers signed a statement with the police. Now we continue to go back and forth to court. She claimed she has no money but bailed herself out on $1500 and hired a well known lawyer from Pawcatuck. Its unreal what people can do and get away with but the first floor tenant and I are NOT letting this go and we will be at EVERY court apperence. We have learned a lot through all this and we are having such financial problems but God is good and we will be okay, sooner or later.
Susan Bessette January 26, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I'm wondering Dawn, what made you move in there??
janis albamonti January 26, 2012 at 06:14 PM
For some,this may be the only choice they have. Consider yourself lucky Susan.
Virginia McCormack January 26, 2012 at 08:36 PM
The mess that was left outside this building says it all. What kind of person would do this to another human being?
Dawn Nye January 29, 2012 at 09:41 PM
To Susan, We were moving and found that place. From what we could see, it was beautiful and huge. Looks are deceiving. I know now who to call and how to check out a property.
shawn Remillard May 02, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Dawn sorry to bother you. But this story is scary for me and my family. We are dealing with a landlord we just moved out of her apartment. Her name is Margaret and we make our rent out to Shannon LLC in westerly RI. Does anyone have a picture of the woman that was your landlord. Mines an elderly woman around 70ish who drives a Volvo station wagon. If this is her please contact me directly at smr440@yahoo.com. thank-you for your time. Seriously worried Shawn

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