GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The new language in the Massachusetts sanitary code goes into effect on April 1st that protect the health, safety, and well-being of tenants.

In a news release sent to 22News from the Greenfield Mayor’s Office, the Massachusetts Public Health Council approved the amendments to the Fitness For Human Habitation Sanitary Code in October 2022. In order for property owners to prepare for the new code, it was delayed for six months.

The changes include promoting healthy living conditions, including updated requirements related to pest management, excess moisture, and standards for kitchens and closets.

Massachusetts Sanitary Code Revisions:

  • Required inspections for insects and wildlife
  • Required inspection excess moisture is present
  • Kitchen sink is watertight with wall/countertop
  • Kitchen floor & pantry floor waterproof material
  • Refrigerators with freezers required
  • Closets that are too deep must have their own light

Landlords must perform inspections for insects and wildlife for any new tenancy, document the inspection, and be prepared to show proof of an inspection upon request.

According to the news release, the new code also changes the term “chronic dampness” to “excess moisture,” requiring inspectors to check for damp areas that could lead to mold growth. Though environmental testing is not required to determine the existence of excess moisture or mold, if testing is conducted, it will not be the sole determination for enforcement.

Landlords must ensure the kitchen sink has a watertight seal along the wall and countertop. Both floors in the kitchen and pantry are required to have waterproof material. All rental units must contain a refrigerator with a freezer unless stated in the lease agreement.

Closets that are too deep to be illuminated by light from the surrounding room must have their own light under the new code.

The temporary housing definition now includes cabins and mobile dwelling units. The new code also clarifies that a rooming house is defined as any structure that contains one or more units where space is rented to four or more people for compensation. Which includes hotels, motels, boarding houses, bed-and-breakfast operations, and hostels.

“The Health Department and Board of Health felt it was important to remind tenants and landlords of these changes so that people are aware of their rights and the expectations under the new code,” said Health Director Jennifer Hoffman. “As we conduct inspections, we will put an emphasis on education.”