The State Sanitary Code Changes in April


2022-10-20 Business Update - The State Sanitary Code Changes in April

Resource Person:

Douglas Quattrochi - Doug

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Hi! My name is Doug Quattrochi. I’m the executive director of MassLandlords, and our business update for today is about changes coming to the State Sanitary Code in April.

We learned last week that the code is going to be mostly sustained, but there are going to be some significant changes starting with kitchens. This is probably the least acceptable kitchen that will be allowed. You have to have waterproof surface up to 24 inches if practical above the sink and countertop. If this particular piece of wood trim is not sealed, then that’s potentially going to be an issue, so you’re going to look at where water could seep in behind the countertop and get that sealed.

If you run a rooming house, the kind of place with two fridges or you’re renting anything by the room, so it’s not really a rooming house, but you got a three- or four-unit and it’s allowed by the city to rent by the room there, you’re going to have to clean the kitchen. You already have to clean the bathroom. That’s the current code, but you’re going have to clean the kitchen at least every 24 hours.

Similarly, if you provide a furnished apartment, the code has changes that were aimed at homeless shelters, but they really will impact furnished apartments as well, you’re going to have to do something different if you provide mattresses, blankets, sheets, linen, covers of any kind because those are going to have to be laundered on a regular basis, certainly between each renter, which makes good sense, but then you’re going to have to launder mattress covers and pillow covers at least every three months and linens weekly. I think a lot of renters won’t really stand for that, so you’re going to have to figure out how to comply. Maybe you gift the materials to the renters instead of actually providing them.

One of the big changes in the code is new definition of excess moisture. They’re moving away from mold and mold testing and giving inspectors wide latitude to determine that there’s excess moisture here. This bathroom is a problem is a number of ways. You’ve got excess darkness in the grout here, which implies that it’s constantly wet. You’ve got staining under the sink, and you got a curtain that doesn’t stay in the tub. If the inspector determines that there’s excess moisture in this bathroom, they may now as of April, require you to put in mechanical fan if the natural ventilation is not enough.

Another change coming to the code is you’re going to have to make sure the closets have enough light from the surrounding room to be used safely, and if they’re not, if they’re very long or there’s a turn to them for any reason, you’re going to have to put a light into that closet.

The second major change apart from the excess moisture change is the requirement to conduct a pest inspection before each tenancy, and you’re going to have come up with a checklist procedure that works for you. If you operate a shelter, then you’re going to have to provide an integrated pest management plan, and any inspector can look at your prior inspections for pests starting in April, so you better make sure that new tenancies started after April 1st have some kind of pest inspection that meets the requirements of the code.

Last but not least is preference for motion detectors in interior common area, halls, and stairs. I think the thinking is probably if someone is not familiar with the premises and they need to get out in an emergency, they shouldn’t be fumbling for the light switch to get their way down the stairs. The lights will just come on.

We’re going to cover all of these extensively in an upcoming event. We’ve covered it once already, so make sure that you’re on our event notice list if you’re not already or just visit on a regular basis to learn about these changes to the sanitary code.

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