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Tenants Contest Rent Increase In University-owned Apartment

By William E. Mckibben

Tenants in a Harvard-owned building on Everett St. told city officials Monday that the University is trying to pass on unreasonable painting and maintenance costs to them through increased rents.

A contractor hired by the tenants at 27 Everett St. told a hearing of the city's rent control department that some of the painting and repair charges for work done on the building were "ridiculous."

Hearing examiner Bruce Eisenhut will make a recommendation on Harvard's request for a rent increase sometime this winter. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The dispute began in the fall of 1979 when Harvard Real Estate (HRE) contracted for painting and window repair work in the apartment house, known as the Jarvis Building, which is located near the Law School.

A Lot

After the work was done, Harvard submitted records showing more than $40,000 in expenses and asked for a rent increase to defray the cost. A tenant representative who asked not to be identified said yesterday the increase amounted to an average of 22 per cent for each apartment.

Eisenhut first heard the case last summer and recommended to the Rent Board that the bulk of the increases be granted, but the board instead remanded the case for more testimony.

It's Only Fair

Jim Foster, a painting contractor, testified at the hearing that a "fair and reasonable" price for painting in the apartment would range from $75 to $200 per room depending on size.

The tenant representative said the University had in fact paid more than $600 per room for the painting job. "The figures are incredible--I think there's a good chance the examiner will cut back on the size of the increase he recommended," the tenant said.

HRE spokesman Robert Silverman refused comment on the case yesterday.

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