Boston's New Rental Registry Coming with Mandated $25 Fee for All Rental Owners

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.


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