Occupancy and Habitability

Landlord Registration

Landlords must file a registration statement for all properties that are not owner-occupied two-family houses. Any non-owner occupied one- or two-family house and any building with three or more rental units must be registered with the city clerk. Buildings with more than three units also have to register with the state Bureau of Housing Inspection.

Illegal Occupancy

Before renting any vacant residence or room, verify whether the space you want to occupy is legal or not. If you are looking at a vacant residence, make sure it is zoned for the amount of people you plan to live with.  If the space is an attic or basement bedroom/residence, make sure to check its legal status. Living and dining room conversions, and singles and double rooms that seem undersized should also be checked for their compliance with local codes. Local housing offices can help you find out about your unit. If illegal occupancies are discovered, you may face eviction by the inspectors.


Most cities have municipal codes that require that each person has a minimum amount of square footage for common areas, such as kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms. In addition, there are similar requirements for bedrooms. Overcrowded rooms, when discovered, can result in a reduction of occupants by the inspectors.


Under the warranty of habitability, landlords have a responsibility to maintain their properties in safe and livable conditions.  Tenants also have a responsibility to notify their landlord of any code violations or necessary repairs.  There are various state and local codes which set minimum standards for dwelling and room units including basic maintenance of  locks, window screens, ventilation, pests, plumbing, painting, garbage, living space, and others.  Check the local municipal code for specific information about your town’s regulations.


If your lease agreement indicates the landlord will provide heat, then the landlord must follow local and state codes for heating requirements. Between October 1 to May 1 the residence should maintain a temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The landlord is exempt from the above rules if he or she and you agree that the tenant will supply heat to the apartment when the rental is served by separate heating equipment under your exclusive control.

Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Each time there is a change in occupancy for residential purposes, the owner of a dwelling must obtain a Certificate of Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Alarm compliance.

For your safety, it is advised to have a smoke detector on every floor of the rental unit and outside of each bedroom.