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Former Residents of Peterborough Tiny House Community Sue Landlord

Former tenants of a planned community of tiny houses in Peterborough have filed a lawsuit, alleging the property owner breached their leases by charging them to reside in units that failed to meet safety codes.

Last month, approximately 25 residents of the Walden Eco-Village were given less than a week to vacate their homes after a code enforcement officer for the town cited a range of safety hazards, including electrical and propane heating systems that failed to meet code.

In a proposed class action lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Superior Court, a group of tenants are accusing Akhil Garland, owner of Walden Eco-Village, of failing to obtain the proper building permits and putting residents at “immediate risk” before they were forced to vacate.

[Click here to read NHPR's previous coverage of this story.]

The property, referred to as simply The Village by its inhabitants, contains six small cottages and nine ‘casitas’ which function as single-room dwellings. There is a shared kitchen and community space on the grounds. Rents started at $455 for the smaller units, ranging to $1,400 for the larger cabins, with all utilities included.

This summer, Garland went before the town’s Planning Board to propose construction of additional units on the property, which sits behind the Well School, a private elementary school. 

That prompted a visit by the town’s code enforcement officer and fire chief, who allege Garland never pulled the appropriate permits for the casitas, and failed to follow building codes for the larger cabins.

Garland attempted to negotiate with the town, but was ultimately forced to evict all residents with less than a week’s notice, and just hours before a major winter snow storm during a pandemic.

The lawsuit, which was filed by four former residents, is demanding Garland return their security deposits, and cover costs including emergency housing and other expenses. Garland hasn’t yet responded to the legal filing.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 7th in Superior Court.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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