There’s a new State Sanitary Code for rental properties being proposed into law. If you own any rental properties, it is important to be aware of these changes. The state will not notify you directly of them, but you will be required to comply. Here’s a quick overview of the new Massachusetts state sanitary code for rental properties.

Pest Management

For properties containing 4 or more units, Massachusetts landlords must implement a pest management plan. This plan must include pest inspections every 4 months. Landlords are required to maintain proper records verifying that this is done. That documentation must include the information below and must be available upon request by the governing board of health.

  • Dates and Times of Inspections
  • Inspection Results
  • Details on Treatments
    • Dates & Times
    • Products Used
    • Company/Individual Performing Treatments
  • Any Tenant Complaints Regarding Pests

Mold Treatment and Prevention

Responsibility to Monitor and Address Mold Issues

Given the potential health hazards of mold, the new Massachusetts State Sanitary Code for Rental Properties takes a stricter approaching to identifying and treating mold issues. Although tenants are often responsible for causing mold due to their living conditions or habits, landlords are still responsible for remediating it. Landlords should therefore be proactive about monitoring areas prone to mold such as bathrooms and other damp areas in and around the home. Any signs of mold should be immediately addressed, preferably by a certified mold remediation company. The local boards of health are granted the authority to perform mold inspections on rental properties.

Bathroom Ventilation

As part of the effort to reduce mold issues, rental properties must all have ventilation fans installed. In the past, fans were not required in bathrooms with windows. However, as we all know, most people do not open windows during colder months in Massachusetts. It therefore makes sense that all bathrooms should contain ventilation fans.

Heating System Requirements

Another major change included in the new Massachusetts Rental Property Sanitary Code is the requirement for centralized heating in all rental units. This prevents the use of wood stoves, fireplaces, pellet stoves, and space heaters as the primary heating source for rental properties. The new rules also exclude the use of certain types of fuel supplies or appliances converted for heat use. If you have properties without centralized heating, it is important to learn more about the new requirements and comply with them this winter season.

Failure to Comply with the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code for Rental Properties

Although you may not have previously been aware of or notified of these changes, you must still be in compliance with them. Failure to do so puts you at risk for:

  • Evicting tenants on otherwise legitimate grounds.
  • Fines and penalties by the state.
  • Chapter 93A Consumer Protection lawsuits which could result in triple damages.

As you’ve probably heard before, ignorance is no excuse for not complying with the law. Work towards complying with the new sanitary code to protect your rights and interests as a landlord. To review the full details of the proposed changes to the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code, click here.