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How Code Enforcement works in Boston

Last updated: 7/7/16

How Code Enforcement works in Boston

The Code Enforcement Police enforce state and City sanitary codes. The police patrol the City on foot, bike, and car.

Still have questions? Contact:
Public Works
1 City Hall Square
Room 714
Boston, MA 02201-2024
United States

Common code enforcement issues

Unshoveled sidewalks

Once it stops snowing, residential and commercial property owners have three hours to remove ice, slush, and snow. As a property owner, you are responsible for any sidewalks next to your property. It’s illegal to shovel or plow snow into the street.

posting signs in Boston

You can’t post signs of any form in the City, including on city buildings, poles or traffic light posts, private property, or trees. If you have a building permit, you can post certain kinds of commercial signage. Check the City’s Zoning code for more info.

Getting rid of trash

You can get fined for not storing and disposing of your trash properly. Put your trash out on the curb by 7 a.m. on your trash day. You can also set it outside the night before after 5 p.m. Remember to separate trash from recycling on the curb. Barrels need to be made of metal or durable plastic, have a lid, and can’t be heavier than 50 pounds when full. Tie up any plastic bags inside. You need to use two-ply trash bags that can hold no more than 32 gallons. You can’t store trash in grocery bags, paper bags, cartons, or boxes.

Street vending

You need to get permits and licenses from the State Division of Professional Licensure, Public Works, and Inspectional Services. If you break any rules or regulations, the City or the state will confiscate your merchandise and fine you. Learn more about street vending.

Appealing a Green Ticket

You have 21 days to submit a written appeal or ask for a hearing.

If you are not happy with the result of your case, you can make an appeal to the Boston Housing Court

Appealing a code violation

Codes enforced by the police

Codes enforced by the police
Commercial

You need to place trash outside of a business in barrels or two-ply bags.
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 1
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 9
Fine amount: $50

Residential

You need to store trash in a two-ply bag or in a trash barrel with a tight lid.
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 1
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 5
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 8
Fine amount: $25

You can’t have more than 1 cubic yard of garbage scattered around your yard.
Mass General Law Ch.270, Section 16
Mass General Law Ch.270, Section 16a
Fine amount: $300

Commercial

A business can’t place trash curbside before 5 p.m. on the night before the street’s trash day.
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 5
Fine Amount: $25

Residential

You can’t place your trash curbside before 5 p.m. on the night before your trash day.
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 5
Fine Amount: $25

You can’t get rid of your trash and garbage at an unauthorized location.
City Ordinance Article 23
Mass General Law Ch.270, Section 16
Mass General Law Ch.270, Section 16a
Fine Amount: $1000
We may also impound your car.

You can’t transport garbage without first getting a permit from Public Works.
Contact Public Works
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 1
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 12
Fine Amount: $50

Commercial

Companies need to maintain their barrels and dumpsters and can’t overfill them.
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 1
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 8
Fine Amount: $50

Residential

You can’t overfill any barrels or dumpsters that you use. Property managers and owners need to make sure tenants have barrels.
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 1
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 8
Fine Amount: $50

Commercial

If a business has a dumpster, it also needs to have a Public Works permit.
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 2
Fine Amount: $10
$2 extra per dumpster

Residential

You need a permit to have a dumpster. A home with six or more units needs to have a Site Cleanliness Permit from Inspectional Services.
Site Cleanliness Application
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 2
Fine Amount: $50, but the fine can’t be more than $1000

You can’t get rid of medical waste. A licensed medical waste removal company needs to dispose of it.
More Information from the Bureau of Environmental Health
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 4

If you own a residential building with six or more units, you need to give your tenants access to the recycling program.
City Ordinance Article 7, Section 13A
Fine Amount: Subsequent offenses can result in a $300 fine

Commercial

Business owners need to sweep sidewalks and gutters, and remove any garbage and debris.
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 1
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 9
Fine Amount:  $25

Residential

If you are a property owner, you need to shovel snow and make sure all sidewalks next to your property are clear.
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 1
City Ordinance Article 23, Section 9
Fine Amount: $15

You can’t attach any signs or posters on City buildings, poles, or structures.
City Ordinance Article 16, Section 23.1

You can’t occupy a City property without valid permits from Public Works and Inspectional Services.
Street Occupancy Permit Information
Application for Use and Occupancy
City Ordinance Article 16, Section 122A

We will give warnings to businesses and homes that have not applied for and received a Site Cleanliness License. You can get a license through Inspectional Services.
More Information About Site Cleanliness
City Ordinance Article 16, Section 12.9

You can’t park in an illegal driveway, or in a front, rear, or side yard.
City Ordinance Article 16, Section 46
Fine Amount: $150 for a first offense
Subsequent offenses carry a $300 fine