A Boston Globe special edition story brought to light the many dangers of student housing overcrowding. With rental prices high, students and other young people are likely to take advantage of every money-saving trick possible, including living in overcrowded conditions. The fact that most dwellings have occupancy limits defined by state and local statutes is not a deterrent for landlords when they know no one is going to enforce compliance.
Uninhabitable Living Conditions in Boston
The problem goes far beyond occupancy. Broken or dangerous appliances, pests, poor heating and cooling conditions, non-functioning smoke alarms, insufficient exits, inability to open/close windows, broken locks or doors, mold, and many other problems have been reported that have led to fires, serious injury, and death. Out of 154,000 rental units in Boston, it is estimated that only 2,304 units were scrutinized by the city over a 12 month period. This makes one wonder just how many housing code violations went undetected. This statistic is even more disturbing given that Boston landlords are required by law to have rentals inspected whenever a new tenant moves in. Clearly the city is not adhering to this requirement and ensuring that these inspections occur.
Looking specifically at student populations, a city zoning rule prohibits more than four undergraduates from sharing living quarters. By having more than four students living together, the tenants are putting themselves at risk for a citation for violating the code. When confronted with this zoning rule, the students admit to not knowing or not caring about it. Due in part to this nonchalant attitude, Boston city officials are currently in the process of making visits to student homes they think may be violating housing codes.
Health and general safety issues are an obvious concern when you consider not just occupancy, but also exit options from the premises in case of an emergency. A tragic fire in 2013 was attributed to there being too many occupants and not enough exits, and this put officials on notice that this was a growing area of concern. Additional violations including exposed wires and unstable balconies in rental properties have been reported in recent months.
Boston Premises Liability Lawyers
As a tenant in any landlord-tenant relationship, you have a right to live in a habitable dwelling. The definition of a habitable swelling includes the following;
- There can be no dangers that could threaten your health, safety, or well-being
- There must have access to water and heat
- There should be no unreasonable presence of pests, mold, or other conditions that pose potential danger to the occupant’s health.
If you or anyone you know has been injured or became ill due to unreasonable living conditions, you may be entitled to compensation. Even as a student, you have a right to have access to your landlord, report problems, and get them fixed in a reasonable fashion. If the landlord or someone the landlord hired fails to fix the problem or does so negligently, and you are injured as a result, you may also be entitled to compensation. Rent is expensive in Boston, but that does not mean you deserve to live somewhere where your health or safety is compromised. An experienced premises liability attorney at John J. Sheehan’s Boston office can help you learn more about your legal rights. We know it is unacceptable for you to be injured in your own home due to an unhealthy or dangerous condition outside of your control so do not hesitate to contact us today.