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Boston Landlords to City: Not Quite Drop Dead, But Close

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Pity the Boston landlord. Such high rents and high demand. And now the city stepping in with a new registration scheme that costs them almost nothing a month.

The City Council last year approved a registration and inspection system designed to crack down on substandard housing, the kind that only maybe gets the city's attention when a tenant complains enough or there's some kind of (sometimes horrific) incident. Private landlords are supposed to register with the city, including paying a $25 annual fee (landlords of owner-occupied buildings with six or fewer units are exempt from the whole shebang inspection).

Thing is, only about 40,000 units have been registered with the city since January, even after the deadline was extended a month past the original Aug. 1 cutoff. That's less than 30 percent of the total apartments the city is looking to register. What's the holdup? Angst. Per Peter Schworm and Matt Rocheleau in The Globe:

[P]roperty owners say the requirements are too costly and intrusive, and they have been calling city councilors in hope of changing the law. Technical difficulties in registering online have caused further aggravation. "My office has been bombarded with complaints," said Charles Yancey, a city councilor and mayoral hopeful who has called for a public hearing on the ordinance. "I think the responsible thing to do is to take a second look."

For its part, the city's holding firm, declining to extend the deadline again and ready to fine each landlord who doesn't register $300 a month per unit. Given that the inspections are once every five years and the annual costs to be born by landlords are around, if not far less, than a typical month's rent in Boston (registration fees are capped at $2,500 per building, $5,000 per complex) we're not seeing the onerousness here. Just us?
· Landlords Call Boston's New Fee Plan Intrusive, Costly [Globe]
· City of Boston Rental Inspection Ordinance [PDF]
· Where the Hub's Apartment Rents Burn Your Checkbook [Curbed Boston]
· The Cheapest, Priciest Areas in the Hub to Rent an Apartment [Curbed Boston]