Leominster Health Department


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Address:
25 West Street,
Leominster, MA 01453

Suite 11

Telephone:
Phone - (978) 534-7533
fax - (978) 534-8416


Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM
Thursday: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Board Members:
Peter Lanza, Chairman
Norman J. Gould, Jacalyn Lastella, and Peter Lanza, Board Members

Code Enforcement Housing

 
Introduction
What's New
Asbestos
Certificate of Fitness
Hoarding
Housing Codes
Landlord Registration
Lead Paint
Laws and Regulations
Mold
Pests and Pesticide Use
Radon

 

Introduction

The Leominster Board of Health is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that area housing meets a minimum standard of fitness and that residents of our community will have access to decent, safe and sanitary housing.

The Leominster Board of Health staffs two full-time Code Enforcement Inspectors.

One of these staff positions is fully funded through a grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Developments’ Community Development Block Grant Program. The HUD funded position requires that inspector to work only in areas that will benefit extremely low, low and moderate-income households.

The function of the Code Enforcement Inspector is to respond to complaints and requests for inspections where violations of the housing code are believed to exist in renter occupied and owner occupied single and multi-family dwellings, rooming/boarding houses and hotels/motels throughout the City of Leominster.

These inspections determine if the dwelling unit complies with the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code, Chapter II – Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation. This code provides a set of standards that are designed to help determine if a dwelling is fit for human habitation.

Some examples of what these comprehensive inspections include:
• Kitchen Facilities
• Space and Use
• Bathroom Facilities
• Potable Water
• Hot Water
• Lighting and Electrical Facilities
• Ventilation
• Sewage Disposal
• Plumbing
• Asbestos
• Space and Use
• Temporary Housing
• Exits
• Security
• Smoke Detectors
• Maintenance of Structural Elements
• Lead Paint
• Insects and Rodents
• Garbage and Rubbish

Enforcement of the minimum standards includes enforcement of certain sections of additional State of Massachusetts codes that apply to housing including:

• Massachusetts State Plumbing Code (248 CMR 2.00)
• Massachusetts State Fuel Gas Code (248 CMR 4.00-8.00)
• Massachusetts State Electrical Code (527CMR 12.00)
• Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR 1.00-22.00)
• Massachusetts State Regulations for Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control (105 CMR 460.000)
• Minimum Standards for Sewage Disposal Systems (State Environmental Code, Title 5, 310 CMR 15.00)

After an inspection, all violations are reported to the property owner and the occupant. The property owner is issued an order to correct the violations and is given a time frame in which to bring the property into compliance. The inspector will conduct re-inspections to determine that all violations have been corrected. If the property owner fails to obey the order, the Board of Health initiates judicial proceedings or levies fines.

Very often property owners are unaware that housing code violations exist on their property or they do not realize that an existing condition constitutes a code violation. Often an order to correct violations is the first contact a property owner has with the local board of health. The housing inspectors will work closely with property owners assisting in any way appropriate to facilitate the owner’s compliance with the State Sanitary Code.

Please be advised that housing inspectors cannot give referrals or recommendations for contractors or companies.
 
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What's New

Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Regulations in Massachusetts


The Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety (DOS) has recently adopted new regulations under its lead standard 454 CMR 22.00, that apply to renovation, repair or painting (RRP) work conducted for a fee in target housing or any child-occupied facility where more than threshold amounts of lead paint are disturbed.

This new regulation became fully effective in Massachusetts on April 22, 2010.

It is essential that you determine whether or not the renovation work you perform falls under the new regulations.

You can view the regulations at: www.mass.gov/dos

You can reach DOS at (617) 969-7177

Bed Bugs

Massachusetts has not been spared from the resurgence of bed bugs across the country. All 50 states are reporting outbreaks of these insects.

Bed bugs were eradicated from most developed nations after WWII with the use of DDT. This pesticide is banned and no longer in use due to its toxic effect on the environment.

Bedbugs are becoming a problem once again, possibly spurred by the increase in international travel.

If you are a renter who thinks they have a bed bug infestation you should contact your landlord immediately so he can get a licensed exterminator to handle the infestation.

If your landlord does not respond to your complaints or if you feel the extermination is not being addressed properly you should contact the Leominster Board of Health.

If you encounter bed bugs in a hotel or motel, in new or used furniture, in retail stores or any private or public environment, please report this to the Leominster Health Department.

For information about bed bugs you can contact the Leominster Health Department or visit the following web sites:

Frequently Asked Questions: www.mass.gov/dph/environmentalhealth

Protocols for the Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs in Multi-Unit Housing: www.cityofboston.gov

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Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has historically been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant.

Asbestos has been known to man for centuries. The ancient Greeks used asbestos in their cloth and Romans used it in their building materials. In the United States, asbestos became popular in the early 1900s because it is strong, insulates well, and resists fire and corrosion. During the 1960s, evidence emerged indicating that asbestos fibers were a dangerous health hazard and by the 1970s the federal government began to take action by instituting laws and regulations about the use, abatement and disposal of asbestos. Today, asbestos is most commonly found in older homes in the pipe and furnace insulation material, siding, shingles, millboard, and floor tile.

Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after materials containing asbestos are disturbed by cutting, sanding or other remodeling activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air in homes, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living in those homes.

The most dangerous asbestos fibers are too small to be visible. After they are inhaled, they can remain and accumulate in the lungs. Asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest and abdominal linings), and asbestosis (irreversible lung scarring that can be fatal). Symptoms of these diseases do not show up until many years after exposure.

Do not panic if you think you have asbestos in your home. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fiber. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs. Do not remove, cut, rip, or sand asbestos-containing materials!

Property owners in Massachusetts are obligated by law to maintain all asbestos material in good repair and free from any defects including, but not limited to: holes, cracks, tears or any looseness that may allow the release of asbestos dust, or any powdered, crumbled or pulverized asbestos material. Abatement of asbestos in Massachusetts is strictly regulated and must be conducted by a licensed asbestos removal contractor. All abatement must be in accordance with the regulations of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) appearing at 310 CMR 7.00 and in accordance with the regulations of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD) appearing at 453 CMR 6.00 and with any other applicable statutes and regulations. Property owners who conduct unauthorized asbestos removal are subject to large fines from state and federal departments.

In some cases, property owners can handle asbestos siding, roofing and tiles. However, even in this case, DEP notification and authorization is required before beginning any work and DEP guidelines must be strictly followed.

You can find information about licensing, notification, laws, regulations, and health through the following links.

Department of Environmental Protection – State And Federal regulations, general information.
http://www.mass.gov/dep/

Division of Occupational Safety – Asbestos in schools, occupational exposure, licensing, certification, applications, forms
http://www.state.ma.us/dos/

Environmental Protection Agency – General information, vermiculite, asbestos in your home, resources
http://www.epa.gov/oppt/asbestos/
 
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Certificate of Fitness

Upon request, the Leominster Board of Health will issue a Certificate of Fitness for any rental dwelling unit.

A State Sanitary Code inspection will be conducted by the Leominster Health Department after a request for a Certificate of Fitness is received.

If the premises, having no violations, meets the requirements of the State Sanitary Code, a Certificate of Fitness will be issued within ten (10) days after the inspection.
The Certificate of Fitness will be issued to the property owner and signed by the Director of Public Health or Code Enforcement Inspector employed by the Leominster Board of Health.

If the premises are in violation of the State Sanitary Code, the landlord will receive the inspector’s report listing the violations. If the dwelling is occupied, a time within which the violations must be corrected will be listed in accordance with Massachusetts State Sanitary Code.

No Certificate of Fitness will be issued until such time as all violations are corrected to the inspector’s satisfaction. No Certificate of Fitness will be issued until such time as the owner has completed a Landlord Registration Form.

The Director of Public Health shall charge a fee to the landlord for the issuance of a Certificate of Fitness in an amount to be determined by the Board of Health. This fee shall be paid before the inspection is conducted.
 
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Hoarding

Housing inspectors are often called to homes that are filled from top to bottom with an excessive number of belongings or an overabundance of animals. In some cases, the home is filled with both things and animals. The accumulations are often so great that it is impossible to walk in the home. This little understood phenomenon is referred to as “hoarding”. The requests for inspections at these homes are most often received from the Police Department, Fire Department, concerned family members, landlords or social service agencies.
Hoarding is the collecting of and failure to discard large numbers of things or animals until it interferes with day-to-day functions. Animal hoarding has the added symptom of the fact that there are such a large number of animals the hoarder cannot provide acceptable care. Hoarding often causes health and safety hazards. Huge piles of newspapers, clothes and food serve as a harborage for rodents and insects and present a fire safety hazard to the occupant and the general public. Blocked egresses hinder entry by emergency responders and the ability of the occupant to exit in case of crisis. Floors can buckle from the weight and combustibles can ignite. In addition, the occupant is in danger of falling or of respiratory illness from problem indoor air quality. Hoarding of animals presents additional health risks from diseases transmitted animal to human and extreme air quality problems such as environmental ammonia.

Little is known of the causes of hoarding, but there is a great deal of research being done to more clearly define the phenomenon. Many experts believe it is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder although it is seen in conjunction with a variety of illnesses and is therefore difficult to place in a diagnostic category. Although the reason is not understood, it is estimated that the elderly represent the majority of people who hoard.

The following will link you to a web site with information about animal hoarding:

The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium
http://www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/hoarding/index.html

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Housing Codes

Housing inspections are conducted and enforcement procedures followed to comply with the Code of Massachusetts Regulations at 105 CMR 400.00 State Sanitary Code I: General Administrative Procedures and 410.00 State Sanitary Code II: Minimum Standards for Human Habitation.
The purposes of the code are to protect the health, safety and well-being of the occupants of housing and the general public, to facilitate the use of legal remedies available to occupants of substandard housing, to assist boards of health in their enforcement of the code and to provide a method of notifying interested parties of violations of conditions which require immediate attention.
The following links will take you to a Massachusetts Department of Public Health web site where you will find the State Sanitary Code.


State Sanitary Code
Chapter I – General Administrative Procedures
http://www.state.ma.us/dph/dcs/codech1.pdf

Chapter II – Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation
http://www.state.ma.us/dph/dcs/cmr410_6_02.pdf

Safe and Sanitary Housing for Massachusetts Residents – A summary of the code.
http://www.state.ma.us/sec/cis/cissfsn/sfsnidx.htm


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Landlord Registration

The owner of any residential rental property must provide all ownership and management information relative to the rental property to the Leominster Board of Health by completing the Landlord Registration Form.

The owner must notify the Leominster Board of Health, in writing, of any changes of information listed on the Landlord Registration Form.
 
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Lead Paint
 

Lead paint is a natural heavy metal found in both the natural and human environment. Lead is commonly found in paint, dust, soil, water, food, certain occupations and hobbies, as well as cosmetics and medicines. Lead gets absorbed into the system, enters the blood stream and is circulated throughout the human body. Lead poisoning may directly affect the blood stream, liver, kidneys, nervous system, bones, reproductive system, and brain, where it may impair the development of hearing and speech. Although extremely high levels are rare, they can result in convulsions, coma, or death. Lead paint determinations are conducted under State Sanitary Code inspections when a child under the age of six resides in the unit and with the parents consent.

Department of Public Health
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
http://www.state.ma.us/dph/clppp/clppp.htm

Mass Housing
http://www.masshousing.com/

Environmental Protection Agency
http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/lead/index.html
 
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Laws and Regulations

During the course of their work, housing inspectors often encounter tenants and landlords in dispute over rental payments, evictions, discrimination, housing conditions and even personal injury.

Housing inspectors are not equipped to give legal advice. The laws are very complex and anyone seeking advice for housing issues is best served by working with a knowledgeable attorney. There are numerous resources available in Massachusetts to people of all income levels.

Below is a list of and links to legal resources. Also following are links to laws and regulations under which Massachusetts boards of health function.

Check your Yellow Pages for local attorneys.

Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts
405 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608
(800) 649-3718
(508) 752-3718

Massachusetts Justice Project
332 Main Street, Suite 640
Worcester, MA 01608
(888) 427-8989
(508) 831-9888

Massachusetts Fair Housing Center
57 Suffolk Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
(800) 675-7309
(413) 539-9796
(508) 799-7496
 
Worcester Fair Housing Project
405 Main Street, 4th floor
Worcester, Ma 01608
(800) 649-3718
(508) 752-3718
TTY: (508) 755-3260

Lawyer Referral Service of the Massachusetts Bar Association
http://www.massbar.org/lawhelp/need_lawyer/

Worcester County Housing Court
http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/worcesterhousingmain.html

Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries
http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/

Massachusetts General Laws
http://www.state.ma.us/legis/laws/mgl/

Code of Massachusetts Regulations
http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/cmr.html
 
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Mold
 
Molds are fungi and grow throughout the natural and built environment. Mold only needs a few simple things to grow and multiply:
● Moisture
● Nutrients
● Suitable place to grow
Of these, controlling excess moisture is the key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth.
Mold should not be permitted to grow and multiply indoors. When this happens, health problems can occur and building materials, goods and furnishings may be damaged.
The most common health problems caused by indoor mold are allergy symptoms. Although other and more serious problems can occur, people exposed to mold commonly report problems such as:
● nasal and sinus congestion
● cough
● wheeze/breathing difficulties
● sore throat
● skin and eye irritation
● upper respiratory infections (including sinus)
The following types of people may be affected more severely and sooner than others:
● infants and children
● elderly people
● individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies and asthma
● persons having weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients)
Department of Public Health
http://www.state.ma.us/dph/beha/beha.htm

Environmental Protection Agency
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/

Guidelines on Assessment Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments
http://www.moldinspector.com/nyc_mold_guidelines.htm
 
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Pest and Pesticide Use

Housing inspectors receive complaint calls about every sort of pest -- from bats to centipedes. Some tenants, who have fear of certain pests such as spiders, expect their landlord to exterminate everything. In most cases housing inspectors will not order the landlord to exterminate spiders, centipedes, silver fish, lady bugs, meal moths, common household ants in average numbers, or fleas if caused by tenants’ pets. The housing inspector will instruct the tenant how they might manage the problem themselves. Property owners will always be required to exterminate cockroaches, termites, carpenter ants, bees, wasps, rats, mice, bats, raccoons, skunks, and squirrels in buildings where there are two or more units.

If the building contains one dwelling unit, the occupant is responsible to maintain the dwelling unit free from rodent, pest, and insect infestation and is responsible for any extermination.

If the building contains two or more units or is a rooming house, the property owner is responsible to keep the premises free from all rodent, pest, and insect infestation and is responsible for any extermination.

It is important for property owners to be familiar with the applicable laws and regulations relative to pesticide use as set by the Department of Food and Agriculture’s Pesticide Board in 333 CMR 13.00.

The Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act requires that all applicators in public and private places used for human habitation be licensed or certified. Residential properties with three or fewer apartments are exempt from this requirement.

Workers who must be licensed to apply pesticides include, but are not limited to: landlords, apartment building maintenance staff, office building grounds keepers, golf course superintendents, the staff or janitors of restaurants, schools, town halls, etc. Individuals using general (over the counter) pesticides must at a minimum obtain an Applicator License. Those needing to use State or Federally Restricted pesticides (available only from licensed dealers) must become certified.

The law not only covers chemicals used to control insects but also many other chemicals that are not generally thought of as pesticides. For example, a groundskeeper using a fungicide on the grass, or a weed and feed fertilizer herbicide mix, or an herbicide to control poison ivy must be licensed. Even spraying for bees requires a license. As a rule of thumb, if you are using chemicals to kill living things, you must be licensed.

Applications of disinfectants, algaecides, antimicrobials, paints, stains, wood preservatives, enclosed baits, and traps are exempt from the Pesticide Board Standards for Application at 333 CMR 13.00.

Of special importance is the regulation obligating pesticide applicators or their employers to give at least 48 hours pre-notification to occupants of all residential units prior to any routine commercial application of pesticides for the control of indoor household or structural indoor pests. The intent of notification is that individuals who must, or wish to, avoid exposure to the chemicals can make necessary arrangements. In addition, it gives the individual time to take precautions for sensitive individuals such as children, elderly citizens, pregnant women, and those with health problems. Notification will give occupants time to protect food, dishes, utensils, toys, medicines and pets.

You can obtain all the information about certification and licensing and pesticide use from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Pesticide Bureau.

http://www.state.ma.us/dfa/pesticides/

Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture Phone (617) 626-1700
251 Causeway Street, Suite 500 Fax (617) 626-1850
Boston, MA 02114
 
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Radon
 

Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You cannot see, smell, or taste radon but it may be a problem in your home. When you breathe air-containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. Testing is the only way to know your home’s radon levels. There are no immediate symptoms that will alert you to the presence of radon. The Board of Health does not test for radon.
Department of Public Health
http://www.state.ma.us/dph/rcp/

Environmental Protection Agency
www.epa.gov/radon
 
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