$25 Fee Comes With New City Rental Registry

Boston leaders are looking to amend the rental ordinances and thus create a citywide database of all rental units.


Boston is looking to amend current rental ordinances to create a citywide registry of all rental apartments with regulations that mandate inspections every five years for rental properties of six family dwellings or more. 

Mayor Thomas Menino has pushed for the update to the city's rental ordinances, which the Boston City Council has discussed at public hearings and working sessions, and at Wednesday's council meeting.

Important to note is that rental units of six family dwellings or fewer would be exempt from the inspections. But all owners of rental buildings would have to pay a one-time $25 fee, which District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley, and chair of the Committee on Government Operations, would go to funding the program. 

Said O'Malley, "This is a good and very important ordinance to create a registry of all our rental units, something that doesn’t currently exist."

Before the hearing, O'Malley spoke with Patch, and said the registry and inspections "empowers tenants to make sure it’s clean and healthy."

He said the registry would "not just be creating more beaucracy, but a system in place to have the registry, but really having a substantive inspection process." O'Malley said Boston would have to hire five to seven more inspectors to create the program, but the one time fees to register would pay for the program. 

O'Malley said the idea for the rental registry was born out of the Mayor's Office and City Council dealing with problem properties. 

"In Mission Hill, Fenway, and some of the other neighborhoods it's a bigger issue than in West Roxbury and Roslindale. Jamaica Plain does have its Problem Properties (Task Force). This is to deal with absentee landlords. Allston and Brighton would benefit from it," said O'Malley. 

The Boston City Council is expected to take a vote on amending the rental ordinances on Dec. 17, and if passed would go into law.

William Dawes December 06, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Allow me to translate: "O'Malley said Boston would have to hire five to seven more inspectors to create the program, but the one time fees to register would pay for the program." Using my Google government-speak Translator, this means that Boston will hire 5-7 new inspectors, and hope to pay for them with the one-time fees. However, the program would rapidly consume all fees through pension obligations, healthcare costs, expanding bureaucracy, and regulations until it was operating at a deficit, at which point the one-time fees will become annual fees, which will increase every year.
yogasong December 06, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Yeah, I didn't think that math would work out too well either. On the editing side of things, it appears that 6 bedroom houses are both going to be required to be inspected under this program and they would also be exempt. Hmmm, which is it?
John McLoughlin December 06, 2012 at 05:31 PM
That is weird, I thought there was already an process for dealing with these properties. ISD or something along those lines. Also, I could have sworn I saw a housing court operating out of the Boston Municipal Courts. I must have been mistaken. No doubt it is a good idea to set up another redundant city agency. I am glad that the city does not have anything else to worry about like crime, explosive gas leaking out of century old pipes, or the decaying roads that are destroying my car and my bicycle. I think Matt is usually a very thoughtful, reasonable city councilor but I would love to hear him give me an ironclad assurance that this will not turn into the usual crony bin, with gradually escalating yearly fees!


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