Landlords Resist Apartment Registration/Inspection Law

Download Audio
Rooftop view of apartments in Allston, Mass. (Wikimedia Commons/Joel McCoy)
Rooftop view of apartments in Allston, Mass. (Wikimedia Commons/Joel McCoy)

Thousands of Boston landlords have until the end of this week — August 31 — to register their rental units in a new inspection program.

Under a recently approved ordinance meant to make Boston's estimated 140,000 apartments safer, any housing unit not occupied by the owner has to be registered with the city. Owners must pay a $25 registration fee for each apartment in the first year and $15 per unit every following year.

Beginning in January 2014, inspectors will then check out most units once every five years to make sure they're up to code. Inspections come with additional fees. The exceptions to inspections: owner-occupied buildings with fewer than 7 units and apartments that are owned or managed by the city of Boston, the state of Massachusetts or the federal government.

The registration requirement applies even to rental units that are vacant or not collecting any rent.

Some landlords say Boston should be targeting known violators rather than casting such a wide net, and they're skeptical the city can accomplish such an ambitious task. And although rental property owners who don't register their units could be fined $300 per month, so far most landlords have not yet signed up; just days before the deadline, fewer than 35 percent of the city's rental units had been registered.

Meanwhile, many tenants fear that — in an already expensive rental market — registration and inspection fees will be passed along to them in the form of higher rents.

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer spoke with the city's inspection chief, a tenant advocate and a large-scale landlord about the new program.


Bryan Glascock, Commissioner of Boston's Inspectional Services Department

Kathy Brown, coordinator of the Boston Tenants Coalition

Harold Brown, chair and CEO of the Hamilton Company


City of Boston The purpose of this Ordinance is to implement a proactive rental inspection program that maximizes the effectiveness of City resources in rental property code enforcement.

This segment aired on August 29, 2013.

Headshot of Sacha Pfeiffer

Sacha Pfeiffer Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.



More from Radio Boston

Listen Live