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Boston Prepares To Crack Down On Bad Landlords

By Ken MacLeod, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Over the next few weeks, city housing inspectors will be called on to sort out hundreds of disputes between landlords and tenants as college students pour into town. Some call it “turnaround week” when students dump their old apartments and move into new ones. It comes as the city gets ready to crack down on bad landlords. WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod went out with inspectors on Tuesday.

It was a bed bug infestation that prompted Wentworth students to summon the inspectors to their Fenway apartment where anyone who sleeps over comes under attack. “These guys have gotten bit so bad that when they wake up their arms are just covered in bites,” said tenant Andrew Schwartz. “It’s just disgusting.”

For months, they say their landlord has turned a deaf ear on their complaints. They will now be cited for several violations beyond bedbugs.

“This is what happens until Inspectional Services steps in, that’s when things will get done,” inspector Julia Scott says. The students say they will toss their furniture and head elsewhere at month’s end.

Not far away, inspectors were picking through a mound of trash dumped in an alley, called in by a frustrated neighbor. Inspectors say the mess left behind Harvard’s building is the work of a student moving to a new place.

“It’s food and it’s rotting,” said the angry neighbor, “and strangely enough its the Harvard School Of Public Health.”

Inspectors found a name in the dumped trash, a Harvard tenant the school is trying to track down.

The next two weeks are crunch time for city inspectors who will soon get sharper teeth to tackle health and safety issues like the overcrowding that led to the death of a Boston University student last spring when fire ripped through her packed house in Allston.

By the end of the month, all owners of private rental houses in Boston must register their properties with the city and beginning in January, all those with more than six units, will be inspected once every five years.

Landlords with a history of problems will get checked first.

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