Sweeping Rewrite of State Sanitary Code, No Landlord Input?

In late August 2017 MassLandlords was forwarded a memo dated June 14, 2017 announcing a comprehensive rewrite of the state sanitary code. Although the memo attributes the work to "key stakeholders," MassLandlords did not know whether any stakeholder was a property owner or manager. It is vital that property owners and managers review these changes and send feedback to us so that we can submit written testimony on your behalf.

The rewrite is grounded in good intentions, including the desire to remove obsolete references to other codes, to increase readability, and to reduce confusion. There are also many proposed changes that MassLandlords has not had time to evaluate, including: requiring stoves, mandating quarterly pest inspections, and changes to rooming house square footage requirements. It is not known whether any landlords were consulted on these changes.

Please review the redline and provide us comments no later than September 29, 2017 so that we may submit written testimony on owners' behalf prior to the second hearing date on October 4, 2017.

Created from information published by DPH.

Please send information and testimony to info@masslandlords.net.

In addition, if you are especially motivated, you may wish to present your testimony in person:

  • September 13, 2017, 1:00pm, 250 Washington St, Boston, MA
  • October 4, 2017, 1:00pm, 23 Service Center Rd, Northampton, MA

or send it on your own behalf by emailing Reg.Testimony@state.ma.us

6 Responses to Sweeping Rewrite of State Sanitary Code, No Landlord Input?

  1. Rich M says:

    Appendix A

    6. Unfair and Deceptive Practices (General Laws Chapter 93A)

    Renting an apartment with code violations is a violation of the consumer protection act and regulations for which you may sue an owner.

    Rewrite as: Renting an apartment with MAJOR code violations VITAL TO HEALTH AND SAFETY KNOWN BY THE OWNER is a violation of the consumer protection act and regulations for which you may sue an owner.

  2. Rich M says:

    410.100: Kitchen Facilities
    (C) The wall above the countertop containing a sink in a kitchen or pantry shall have a smooth, nonabsorbent, and easily cleanable surface. The surface shall extend at least 24 inches above the countertop where practical.

    Drywall is not nonabsorbent. This provision means that every apartment in the state needs to have a 24″ backsplash using tile or other nonabsorbent material or else the dwelling violates the Sanitary Code.

    This is too restrictive. While I agree it is a good practice, this is not a serious health and safety concern where the state needs to intervene.

  3. Rich M says:

    410.300: Electricity Supply and Illumination
    (D) Spaces other than habitable rooms, kitchens, or rooms containing a toilet, bathtub, or shower:
    (1) Electric light switches and light fixtures in good working order so that illumination may be available for the safe and reasonable use of every:
    (a) Laundry;
    (b) Pantry;
    (c) Foyer;
    (d) Hallway;
    (e) Stairway;
    (f) Closet;
    (f) Storage place;

    Every closet has to have its own light or else the apartment is unsafe?

    Rewrite as: Illumination MUST be available for the safe and reasonable use of every:

  4. Rich M says:

    410.481 400: Owner/Manager Contact Information
    (A) Every owner of a residence who does not reside therein shall post signage, on durable material and not less than 20 square inches in size, which contains, at a minimum, the owner’s name, address and telephone number, and, if applicable:
    (1) The name, address and a telephone number of the president of the corporation if a corporation;
    (2) The name, address and a telephone number of the managing trustee or partner if the owner is a realty trust or partnership; or
    (3) When employed, the name address and telephone number of the property manager or agent who does not reside therein.

    Strike 1, 2, & 3. The owner’s name, address, and phone number are sufficient. I would even recommend posting the email address as well.

    If a management company is in place, then that company represents the owner and will provide its own contact info. There is no reason that a corporation’s president or a trust’s trustees need to be named on a sign on the building is they are not the correct people to contact regarding operations of said building. That information is already a matter of public record and its presence on a building sign would create unnecessary confusion.

  5. Rich M says:

    410.550 560: Extermination of Insects, Rodents and Skunks Elimination of Pests
    (D) The owner of a residence containing four or more dwelling units or rooming units shall implement and maintain an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan by conducting onsite inspections at least every four months. The IPM plan shall be designed and implemented so as to:
    (1) Eliminate entry points for pests;
    (2) Ensure the residence is maintained in a clean and sanitary manner to minimize the availability of food and water for pests;
    (3) Provide information to occupants regarding their role in controlling pests; and
    (4) Monitor the presence of pests.

    (E) An owner required by 105 CMR 410.560(D) to implement an IPM plan shall maintain a record documenting the following activities conducted within the residence:
    (1) Inspection results;
    (2) Complaints filed by occupants;
    (3) The date, location, product name, and name of any person applying pesticides; and
    (4) Modifications to the original IPM plan.

    Owners shall make the record available upon request by the board of health.

    I already do this, but this section seems overly burdensome. Can’t there just be a simple requirement to keep the building free of pests?

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