Rental housing units in Boston must be inspected to make sure they are in compliance with the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code when they are being re-rented to a new tenant. A “Certificate of Fitness” is issued once the apartment has passed inspection. A tenant may contact the Inspectional Services Department to obtain a copy or to verify that the inspection has been done.
When a rental unit is vacated, the landlord is required by law to contact the Inspectional Services Department (ISD), or hire his own Authorized Inspector who has completed the ISD certificate program and has been issued a certificate of completion, to inspect the unit to ensure that it meets the standards of the State Sanitary Code. If an Authorized Inspector is used rather than one from ISD, the inspector must sign and file a sworn statement certifying that the unit is in compliance with the State Sanitary Code. If a landlord is having the apartment inspected by ISD, he must request an inspection within 45 calendar days of a new occupancy of a unit. (The inspection does not have to take place within the 45 days). If the landlord is instead having the apartment inspected by an Authorized Inspector, the landlord has 60 calendar days from the new occupancy of a unit to file with ISD a sworn statement and inspection form completed by the Authorized Inspector. This requirement does not apply to:
Units that have been comprehensively inspected by ISD within the preceding 12 months if such inspections have resulted in no notices of violation to the owner
Apartments inspected, approved and leased through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
Federal, State or City owned or managed apartments
Buildings containing from one to six units, if one is occupied by the owner
Licensed rooming houses, hotels or motels
The fee for the inspection by ISD is $50 per unit for buildings containing up to three units, and $75 per unit for all others. The filing fee for submitting a sworn statement by an Authorized Inspector is $25 per unit. (This filing fee is in addition to the landlord’s cost of hiring an Authorized Inspector to do the work.) After the landlord has made such payment, he may in turn charge tenants for up to 50% of the inspection fee or the filing fee paid to the city, with the charge spread equally over 12 months.
Under certain circumstances landlords may apply to ISD for an extension of time to comply with the ordinance, or for a 5-year exemption from its requirements.
A landlord’s failure to comply with provisions of this ordinance is punishable by a fine of $300 per month for every month that this condition continues to exist.17
17. City of Boston Code, Section 9-1.3