Real Estate Blog

Landlords renting to college students, beware! The City of Boston inspectors will visit possible ordinance violators in the near future.

Are you a landlord thinking about renting out your city apartment to a college student or are you a student considering moving off-campus with a few of your friends? Well, think again.

Pursuant to the amended city ordinance, 31 local colleges and universities are required to collect and maintain a “directory” of names, complete addresses, phone numbers, student statuses, and expected graduation dates of all students enrolled in the school. Once the directory is complete, these schools will submit a report to the City of Boston, which will include, among other things, a breakdown of the number of students living off-campus, their complete addresses, and a number of possible code violations.

According to the article “City Will Inspect Off-Campus Student Apartments, and It’s Legal,” by Julie Xie, there are about 580 addresses that the City’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) will be visiting in the near future. The ISD determined that these 580 addresses could potentially be violating the 2008 city ordinance which prohibits more than 4 undergraduate students to live together in one apartment.

The amendment to the city ordinance 10-10.3 & 10.4 was implemented to resolve the issue of overcrowding, which raises possible health and safety concerns. The safety of the students is, no doubt, an important factor to consider. However, the ordinance does raise some privacy concerns for both, students and landlords.

The ISD will be visiting the above mentioned 580 addresses without providing any notice to the landlord and the students. Thus, at any point, a city inspector can knock on your door and ask to come in and inspect your apartment for violations. Additionally, landlord who rent their properties to college students will be required to register their properties annually and have them inspected every five years.

There is one more thing to consider. What happens if there is a violation? According to ISD commissioner, William Christopher, “if the city finds violations, it will try to work with the tenants or landlord to fix the issue.” If the issue cannot be resolved, then the official will write up the violation. Of course, the landlord (not the students) will be responsible for the violation. However, such violation will directly affect the students. If the landlord wishes to remedy the violation, he or she will have to request some of the students to move out. If there are five students living in one apartment and it is the middle of the school year, how do they determine who has to move out? Someone will have to find another place to live, which means coming up with funds to pay the first and last month’s rent and a security deposit (usually) and then they actually have to move.