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March 25, 2024

Worcester launches rental registry program, $300 daily fine for non-compliance

Photo | Grant Welker Worcester City Hall

The City of Worcester has launched a new rental registry program requiring property owners to register each housing unit with the City.

Residential, commercial, industrial properties, and vacant lots rented for any purpose must be registered by a deadline of April 30, with the City saying this new program will allow it to have more insight to Worcester’s rental housing stock and allow for better responses to emergency situations or instances where property owners need to be notified, according to a Friday press release from the City.

The registry will be used to send communications to property owners regarding changes to local ordinances that may impact the parcel, notifications to work being done in the vicinity of the property, information regarding grants property owners may qualify for, emergency alerts, and other notices.

The information will be used by first responders to inform them of how many residents or units are in a building facing an emergency.

“The rental registry is an important step forward for the municipality’s housing strategy, transparency efforts, and to become an even more welcoming city for renters and property owners,” City Manager Eric Batista said in the Friday press release. “The program will allow the municipality to have up-to-date information on the approximately 50,000 rental dwellings in Worcester. The registry’s associated inspection program will ensure that each unit meets sanitary, fire, and building codes to protect the safety and property of tenants, owners, inspectors, and first responders.”

The deadline to register properties is April 30. Registration costs are $15 per unit and $25 per rented lot, with annual renewal costing $5 per unit and $15 per lot. 

Failure to comply with the new registry will result in a $300 fine each day, with each day of the violation being counted as a separate offense by the City. 

This fine has already become the target of proposed reform by elected officials, as District 3 Councilor George Russell, who is a real estate broker, has submitted a request to Batista to provide the City Council with an amendment to reduce the fine to $10 per day. 

Russell has filed a separate request for Batista to provide the City Council with a report detailing potential frequently asked questions about the program, including potential exemptions. 

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