The Watertown Health Department is charged with the enforcement of the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code, Chapter 2, Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation, 105 CMR 410.000.
To file a complaint, please contact the Health Department by telephone or email. The individual making the complaint must provide the location of complaint and a description of the alleged violation(s). An occupant of a dwelling unit filing a complaint to request an inspection must also provide their contact information.
The Inspection Process
Upon a receipt of a complaint, a Health Officer will arrange a time for an inspection to access the dwelling unit and conduct an inspection. The Health Officer will conduct an inspection and determine what violations of the State Sanitary Code may be present. Violations observed will be documented in a report. The Health Officer will review and provide a copy of the report to the occupant.
Based off the violations observed in the inspection report, the Health Officer will send the property owner an administrative order letter for corrective action needed for compliance. This order letter will detail the timeframe for compliance, the property owner rights, and potential fines. A copy of the letter will be sent to the occupant.
Once the administrative order letter has been received by the property owner and the time has elapsed for corrective action, a re-inspection of the dwelling unit shall occur. The Health Officer will check to verify if all violations listed in the order letter have been corrected. Once compliance has been achieved the property owner will a compliance letter and the case will be closed. If the violations remain uncorrected, the Health Department may file in a court complaint against the property owner to ensure compliance. Depending on the circumstances, there may be more than one re-inspection required.
Additional Items to Consider
Please note that this process can create tension between the occupant and the property owner. It is the responsibility of the occupant to allow the property owner and/or their representative access to their dwelling unit in order to correct the violations observed. This process may involve multiple inspections, phone calls, or referral to other departments. It is important to remain open and patient in this process as we work toward compliance with the violations of the State Sanitary Code.
Lead Paint - Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control
Watertown Health Department enforces the Massachusetts regulation on childhood lead poisoning prevention and control. If you have child under the age of 6 and you are an occupant in a dwelling unit built before 1978, you may request a determination of the presence of lead paint in your dwelling unit. Please contact the Health Department by telephone or email.
For more information on childhood lead poisoning prevention, including a list of certified lead inspectors, please contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the property owner evict me after a complaint is made and violations are noted?
No. The occupant has a right to make a complaint and has rights protecting them from retaliation. MA Department of Public Health has put together a list of legal rights for tenants of rental properties.
Do you have specific hours for conducting inspections?
Inspections are conducted during the normal Town Hall operating hours. Within that time, they are scheduled and conducted at the more convenient time for both the occupant and the Health Officer.
Does the Health Department deal with mold issues in dwelling units?
No. The State Sanitary Code 105 CMR 410.000 does not specifically deal with mold. However, it does address issues that can lead to mold such as water intrusion or chronic dampness.
Once rodents have been observed as a violation in my apartment, what is my responsibility as a tenant?
Often it is required that the property owner hire a licensed pest control agent to eliminate the rodents within a dwelling unit, however, it is the occupant's responsibility to clean up and eliminate food sources and nesting sites within your apartment, please review the guidelines in the Health Department Control of Rodents in Urban Areas (PDF) flyer.