Boston’s New Rental Inspection Program

The Dorchester Reporter’s August 1, 2013, article advises that the City has extended the deadline for property owners to register their rental units with the city to August 31, 2013.
Boston Rental Property

Boston Rental Property

It is the responsibility of any and all business owners to keep up to date with the laws and regulations affecting their business. Vargas and Vargas Insurance wants to help you stay on top of your business’s well-being. We want to help you to ensure that you are following all the necessary guidelines to keep yourself and your business aware of new laws and ordinances in our area.

Currently, this is especially important to Boston landlords, who need to be aware of the new City of Boston Code Ordinance CBC 9-1.3. Here are some FAQs that you may have about the new requirements:

Who will this new ordinance affect?

Anyone who owns rental properties (both apartments and condominiums) in the city of Boston is affected, regardless of their own state of residence. Exemptions include:

  • Owner occupied buildings with six units or less
  • Licensed lodging houses
  • Housing that is government owned or operated

If you are unsure whether you fall under the jurisdiction of this ordinance, it’s best to check with the housing authority. Don’t assume that you’re not affected – it’s better to double check then to be labeled ‘non-compliant.’

As a landlord, what are my obligations?

Every affected landlord must register his or her rental units each year, and pay the associated fee of $25 per unit for their initial registration (with a maximum of $2,500 per building and $5,000 per complex), and a fee of $15 per unit per year thereafter.

In addition, landlords must submit their units to inspections by the Inspectional Services Department (ISD). These inspections are expected to promote benefits that include education regarding housing codes, providing landlords with written records of the condition of their property, and ensuring that rental units meet the necessary Housing Code Requirements.

When will inspections occur, and how often will they be?

Inspections will occur on a rolling schedule beginning in 2014. The ISD has announced that it will begin with what they have deemed as “Problem Properties” and then proceed to all other rental properties.

Problem Properties will require inspection every year, while typical rental units will only need to submit to inspection once every 5 years. The ISD will provide a notice prior to the inspection of a property.

Is my property considered a “Problem Property”?

There is a clear definition of what the ISD will consider a Problem Property. It includes those rental units that have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • 4 or more police visits to the property in the space of one year
  • 4 or more noise complaints
  • 4 or more complaints to the ISD regarding code violations or unsanitary conditions

If any of these apply to your property, you will be classified as a Problem Property, and will need to submit to annual inspections. In addition, the owner must submit a management plan addressing how the issues will be addressed and corrected.

I’m thinking of buying a property to rent – am I affected?

Yes! The Inspectional Services Department must be notified of a sale of rental property within 30 days of closing. The new owner must also register with ISD in this same 30 day period. The new owner has 90 days to then complete pending inspections or to get approval for a new inspection plan.

In this time of closing on a new rental property, it is also imperative to ensure that your purchase is properly protected with a commercial property insurance policy. So while you’re making sure that you’re complying with this new Boston rental property inspection ordinance, also give Vargas and Vargas Insurance a call at 877-550-0025 to discuss your insurance coverage.

Photo credit: rutlo / Foter / CC BY

  • Boeser Wolf

    The ISD is doing a terrible job alerting homeowners to this new ordinance. Most homeowners haven’t got a clue and will be subjected to a $300 a month fine for not registering their rental units for which you need to pay a fee per unit. The first notice I received was in with my water bill of all things, which I received one week ago for an original filing deadline of August 1st. The city gives me two weeks to comply?
    The notice was not put in with my tax bill – that would have been too logical, but with a water bill that has nothing to do with taxes and building codes and thus has a greater chance of being disregarded and left unread. How inane is that? This new annual registration fee is but another way of increasing taxes on the homeowners and earning money for the city.What a scam!
    The deadline has now been pushed off to August 31, but many are up in arms about this new annual “tax” on homeowners, and so many have not been properly notified, especially those with no Internet access like elderly or poorer homeowners. I suggested to my councilman to request the registration period be pushed off even later until all homeowners with rental units are properly informed and have easy access to registering including by mail for those with no computers.