In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health (DPH) has created minimum standards of living that apply to all rental properties, known as the Massachusetts Sanitary Code. These codes identify whether a house can be labeled as condemned depending on whether it is uninhabitable for humans.
It protects tenants and the public from hazard living conditions. An example of a condemned house might be an owner who struggles with severe hoarding. If a house does not meet these guidelines, the local Board of Health may cite the homeowner for code violation, which then identifies the property as a condemned house.
Many rental property owners may not be fully aware of what code violations they must adhere to. If you own a rental property, please take the time to read over the list below as it can help you identify which code you must adhere to, before you are cited due to a code violation:
Every unit should contain a kitchen sink, stove, oven, & proper space to install a refrigerator.
Unit(s) should also include a toilet, sink (separate from kitchen), exhaust fans, & bathtub or shower.
Supply of Drinkable Water
Potable Water, approved by Board of Health, must be sufficiently provided in both quantity & pressure. Hot water must be maintained between 110 to 130 degrees fahrenheit.
Central heating system must be installed to cover all rooms. Space heaters & similar equipment are prohibited.
Light Fixture plus Natural Light
Rooms to include 2 outlets, at least 1 window with provided screens, & sufficient lighting. Bathrooms must have light fixtures.
Obligation of Maintenance
Owner responsible to maintain all appliances installed in unit(s), exterminate any infestation of insects, pest, and rodents, plus implement an integrated pest management plan for rental properties with 4 or more units.
Asbestos and Lead Paint
Remove all asbestos materials when found in unit(s). Plus, lead paint is prohibited if children under 6 years old occupied unit(s).
Remove all signs of mold in each unit.
Metering of Utilities
Unless separately metered and billed, owner must provide tenants with gas or oil, plus electric service.
Minimum Square Footage
150 sq ft for 1st tenant, no less than 100 sq ft for secondary occupants, ceilings must not be less than 7 feet, and bedrooms with 70 sq ft for 1st occupant and 50 sq ft for other occupants.
Egress, Snow and Ice Removal
Keep all means of egress free from any obstruction, including snow and ice.
Locks must be installed on every door in the property. Front entrance door of a 3 unit property must have an automatic locking system.
Smoke and CO2 Detectors
Adhere to the state fire code pertaining to smoke and carbon monoxide detector installation.
Safe handrails on every stairway must be provided
Inspections for Code Violations
If an oral or written complaint is filed by a rental property occupant, code allows local Board of Health inspectors to inspect any/all unit(s).
If the state becomes aware of a property that seems uninhabitable, certified housing inspectional services are sent to check out your home. They administer and enforce the regulations mandated by the city and state. Even though the condition of the perceived property may be labeled as condemned, this does not stop some homeowners from continuing from living in these properties.
Living in a Condemned House
At this point, you might be wondering, “Can I live in a condemned house?” Well, according to MassLegalHelp.com, a person can legally live in a condemned house, until they are ordered to move out by a judge. Owners have a right to a hearing and can present evidence to show why their home should not receive the title of a condemned property
Selling a Condemned House
If you own a condemned house, or are in the process of receiving this label, and need to find a way to get rid of it by selling the house altogether, contact us today. We buy houses, in stressful conditions, and will make you a reasonable cash offer. Our offer will reflect the value of what your condemned property is worth.
What is an Abandoned House?
An abandoned house is similar, but yet different than a condemned building. Let’s say if you own a home, you already know that you are responsible of everything about the property; from paying utility bills to mowing your lawn. Maintenance of a home is like getting a tune up for your car, if you do not keep up with it, sooner or later small problems become bigger. But, unlike a car, a home is not as easy to replace or fix.
For many homeowners, there are times when the responsibility of homeownership can become very stressful. It is so overwhelming, that homeowners decide to just get up and move out, essentially abandoning their home. By vacating the property, without an owner present to keep up with the maintenance demands, the house turns into an abandoned building. With no one to take care of it, it is then vulnerable to vandalism, damage or uninvited wild animals or guest.
When a homeowner abandons their property, signs of an abandoned building becomes clear. Below are just some examples of what old abandoned houses may look like:
Leaves piled up
Roof shingles coming apart
Broken door hinges
Excessive accumulation of mail
Abandoned Housing Initiative
If you live in Massachusetts and own an old abandoned house, you need to be aware of the Abandoned Housing Initiative (AHI). They were formed to address the issue of unclaimed properties. AHI works to prevent safety hazards from properties becoming distressed, which lowers surrounding property values.
AHI will contact owners to enforce the authority of the State Sanitary Code, which is what makes an abandoned house similar to that of a condemned property. If the owners refuse to bring the property up to code, then AHI will petition local court to appoint a receiver, which is essentially a contractor or company that will repair the property and maintain it in a safe and healthy condition.
Lien & Foreclosure
After the court appoints a receiver, they are then granted the ability to fix up the property and charge the homeowner for their work. What makes this an issue for homeowners is that the receiver now has the right to place a lien against the property.
A lien is a legal claim that specifies that there was non-payment for services rendered. If a homeowner does not pay the lien, the receiver will have the right to foreclose on the house. Foreclosure is the process of taking back a property due to unpaid debt. Some local cities have designated coordinators to create vacant property list to aide AHI in its effort to locate such owners.
Selling an Abandoned House
To avoid foreclosure, homeowners can choose to sell their abandoned house. As a home-buying company, we make reasonable cash offers to homeowners in such distressing situations. Fill out a form or call us so that we can make you an offer, to buy your abandoned house ‘as-is’. By doing so, you leave with cash in your pocket and eliminate the stress of attending to court or owing someone money for repairing an old abandoned home you do not want.