Mayor Walsh announces amendment to Boston Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance
March 22, 2014
Today Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the filing of an amendment to the City of Boston's Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance that will help ensure that Boston residents who rent live in safe and healthy units. He has also given a directive to the Inspectional Services Department to begin inspecting rental units in Boston, focusing most of this year’s inspections on landlords with a history of code violations and compliance issues.
"Boston has some of the oldest housing stock in the country, and too often we only find out about serious health and safety issues through tenant complaints or after a tragedy has struck. This is an important step in ensuring access to safe and healthy housing for all Bostonians," said Mayor Walsh. "Proactive inspections that will begin this spring will allow the city to correct housing problems sooner and connect landlords with services and programs that will help them repair their units quickly and at lower cost. We heard concern from our constituents that the registration fees may have been a barrier to some landlords, but this amendment strikes a balance with those concerns and addressing the real safety issues we see in neglected rental properties."
Mayor Walsh made the announcement today at 50 Evelyn Street in Mattapan, owned by an out-of-state loan company. The tenants of the residence were displaced following a complaint received by the Boston Fire Department involving frozen and leaking pipes, absent utilities, and a building flood. As of today, all violations remain outstanding, and the tenants remain without permanent housing. For today's announcement, Mayor Walsh was joined by Brian Swett, Chief of Environment & Energy for the City of Boston, and Dr. Megan Sandel, M.D. M.P.H., Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and pediatrician at Boston Medical Center.
On Monday, Mayor Walsh will submit an amendment to the City Council proposing to waive the registration fees for rental units in 1-3 family owner-occupied buildings, and to provide for a hardship waiver for 4-6 family owner-occupied buildings where the owner is a senior (age 65 or older), or has an infirmity or other circumstances that makes the fee a hardship. In addition, under the proposed amendment, the City of Boston is making the commitment to refund registration fees that have been paid, to date, by properties that will now fall under this exemption. This is a shift from the ordinance's current form, which requires all owners of rental units to pay annual fees to the Inspectional Services Department as part of its registration program. There are currently over 108,000 registered units in the City of Boston from over 16,000 different landlords. Of these, approximately 10,000 units would be eligible for a registration fee refund.
With the proposed changes to the fee structure, the City of Boston is maintaining its commitment to ensuring that residents have a safe and healthy place to live. Boston’s proactive rental registration and inspection program will help the City correct dangerous housing conditions before tragedies strike and address longstanding health problems associated with non-code compliant housing conditions such as mold and pest infestations.