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Boston landlords chafe at new regulations, costs

“I think this is just another big, bloated bureaucracy. ... It’s just there to raise revenue for the city. This is not going to benefit anyone but them,” said Deb Segal, a Brighton landlord who is paying the $25 registration fees for each apartment she owns.
“I think this is just another big, bloated bureaucracy. ... It’s just there to raise revenue for the city. This is not going to benefit anyone but them,” said Deb Segal, a Brighton landlord who is paying the $25 registration fees for each apartment she owns.Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

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By month’s end, Deb Segal is supposed to register her Cleveland Circle apartment building with City Hall, just like thousands of other landlords in a city full of renters.

Calling Boston city government a “big, bloated bureaucracy,” Segal says she is frustrated having to write a $400 check—$25 for each apartment she owns—in order to register it.

“This is not going to benefit anyone but them,” Segal said of city government.

Approved last year by the Boston City Council, the ordinance has received a cool reception from property owners, who have registered their displeasure with its cost and intrusion by not registering, at least not yet.

Some 40,000 units have been added to the registry, less than 30 percent of the estimated total. Given the slow response, city officials extended the original Aug. 1 deadline by a month, and say the pace of registrations has picked up as more landlords learn about the requirement.

The regulation, enacted in an effort to crack down on irresponsible landlords and better regulate the city’s massive stock of apartments, requires for the first time that all private rental units be registered every year. Starting in January, apartments must be inspected every five years, except for owner-occupied buildings with six or fewer units.

Supporters say the inspections will uncover dangerous, overcrowded apartments and require landlords to bring them up to code. They point to such tragedies as the death of a Boston University student in a Allston house this spring. After an investigation, the owner of the building was cited for running an illegal rooming house.

But property owners say the requirements are too costly and intrusive, and have been calling city councilors in hopes of changing the law. A host of technical difficulties in registering online have caused further aggravation.

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