Difficulties With Local Board of Health? Try Putting It In Writing…

Trouble with the local inspector?

Take pictures of everything, then try this…

Massachusetts tenants have approached me complaining that their dwelling has violations of the State Sanitary Code, codified at 105 CMR 410.000. Maybe you have had the same problems.

Sometimes I run into the rogue Board of Health Agent that seemingly will not conduct an inspection at the property, or seems to make excuses or keeps “forgetting” that the tenant called. This can be a real problem for tenants seeking to enforce their right to redress under the Sanitary Code.

The old adage remains, “if you want a government body to act, put it in writing.” The same applies to Building Commissioners and Health Agents, Commonwealth-wide.

PUT IT IN WRITING TO AVOID ANY CONFUSION

If you’re having difficulty obtaining an inspection, send an email or certified letter to the inspector’s office – see if there is an alternative email address for the Select Board or Town Administrator’s office on the town or city website. “CC” that address as well.

Send an email or certified letter stating the following information: your name, address, landlord’s name, that you are requesting a comprehensive inspection pursuant to 105 CMR 410.800; a list of all the sanitary code violations you have already identified, and possible times and dates that you could be present as required for the inspection.

If the inspector does not respond to the correspondence, you may need to send a follow up email or letter. You can always respectfully speak to the Town Manager or Mayor, depending on the city/town, and point out that your right to an inspection for Massachusetts Sanitary Code violations that are set out in 105 Code Mass Regs 410.800, et seq., is being denied – and that it is a violation of 42 United States Code 1983, the Civil Rights Act, and is a Due Process violation.

PS: Sometimes the agent may say things akin to “did you contact your landlord” or “did you put it in writing to your landlord” or “I will call your landlord and see what we can do” – instead of doing the inspection s/he is legally required to conduct under the Sanitary Code. The inspector has to do the inspection, no excuses, and issue a timely and appropriate report of the conditions found during the inspection – 105 CMR 410.800 states exactly that.

CONTACT YOUR LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIAL IF NECESSARY

You can always contact your district councillor or state representative or senator and ask her or him to intervene on your behalf – they work for you. If you decide to contact your representative, make sure to call the office and state you are from the district and are in need of constituent services. Hopefully, they can use the power of the office to make the agent  inspect the premises appropriately. You can also file a lawsuit against the Town or City to force them to comply with their obligations under the law – but call me first before you take that step.

If you believe your rights are being violated – or that a city, town, or other municipal entity has violated your rights by failing  to discharge its basic duty to conduct Health Code inspections, call me at 7742627281. There are state and federal laws that give you a right of action where the town agent acts “under color of state law” to violate your Constitutional rights – in addition to your absolute right to a comprehensive inspection upon request, as a Tenant in Massachusetts.

MJS