South Hadley adopts new rental registry regulation

By Maddie Fabian

For the Gazette

Published: 05-08-2023 2:30 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — The Board of Health has adopted a new regulation that will require every landlord to obtain a rental registry permit with the town.

The regulation works to protect the health and safety of tenants by ensuring safe and sanitary conditions in the rental housing stock, according to Sharon Hart, the town’s public health director.

It also provides explicit guidelines for operating rental properties, directing landlords, tenants and occupants to the State Sanitary Code’s “Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation.”

The health regulations contained within the State Sanitary Code are already mandated by South Hadley town bylaws, but the rental registry requirement aims to spread awareness and further disseminate the information.

The town’s housing code also changed in early April, so the rental registry will serve as a means for the Board of Health to get the housing code out to both landlords and tenants, Hart said.

She added that the new policy is informed by the Health Equity Policy Framework, which guides decisions made by the Board of Health to address health injustices and eliminate preventable health inequities.

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“It’s going to allow us, I’m hoping, to reach some subgroups we might not normally reach… and get an idea of their socio-demographic disparities,” Hart said.

Landlords will need to do their own inspections and sign off that they have received the new housing code and that their units are up-to-code.

“We don’t have the resources to go out and inspect every unit at any time, so it’s going to be totally up to the landlords, and it is their responsibility to maintain their units,” Hart said.

The town is currently working on software for the rental registry application. Once the software is up and running, landlords will be notified and every property owner renting or leasing in South Hadley will need to register with the Board of Health within 30 days of acquiring a rental property. Rental registry permit applications will be made available on the town website.