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What You Need to Know about the Worcester Rental Registry

By Tom Marino | March 25, 2024
Last Updated: April 8, 2024

WORCESTER – The Rental Registry Program launched on March 9 by the City of Worcester requires the owner of any real estate rental unit, rented for any period, to register each unit. The program covers residential, commercial, and industrial properties, and vacant lots rented for any purpose.

Other municipalities in Massachusetts have similar programs. For example, Boston launched its rental registry law in 2013, Amherst in 2022, and Barnstable in 2006. Lawrence, Fitchburg and Leominster have similar programs. Several other municipalities have short-term rental registration requirements.

The fee to register, which funds to program, is $15 per unit for registration and $5 per unit for annual renewal. For each rented lot, the fee is $25 to register and $15 per rented lot for annual renewal. There is a 10 percent discount for online registration. There is no fee for owner occupied units, but all other rental units in the building must be registered.

Registration is available in-person at the Department of Inspectional Services at 25 Meade St. Assistance is available by calling (508) 799-1198.

The ordinance allows for a fine of $300 for each day a landlord is not in compliance with the law.

Property owners without rental units are encouraged to register free of charge.

The primary goal of the program, according to the city, is to “help protect the health, safety, and welfare of all tenants in residential rental housing units by ensuring compliance with the State Sanitary and Building Codes, as well as other applicable local ordinances.” The program also intends to enable the city to have better understanding of the overall rental housing stock in the city.

The contact information collected by registration will enable the city to communicate with property owners in cases of emergency, violation or other issues. Examples of communications property owners may receive from the city include ordinance changes affecting a registered property, notifications of nearby work, emergency alerts, or issues related to the property beforer fines are issued. Owners may also receive information about grant opportunities applicable to them.

Collected information will also inform first responders with information about a property when it is the scene of an emergency.

The city says the program is new and will adjusted based on feedback and usage.

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