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 Boston Mayor Michael J. Walsh announced he’s amending the city’s Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance to provide a break for some landlords.

Since the rental inspection ordinance was passed in December, 2012, city officials have faced an onslaught of criticism, including a staged protest by landlords who say that inspections and fees are unnecessary, unconstitutional, and will only drive up the costs of housing.

The ordinance requires registration and inspection of most of an estimated 140,000 units in the city.

This week, Walsh says he will submit an amendment to the City Council proposing to waive the registration fees for rental units in 1-3 family owner-occupied buildings, and to provide for a hardship waiver for 4-6 family owner-occupied buildings where the owner is a senior (age 65 or older), or has an infirmity or other circumstances that makes the fee a hardship.

In addition, under the proposed amendment, the City of Boston is making the commitment to refund registration fees that have been paid, to date, by properties that will now fall under this exemption.

This is a shift from the ordinance’s current form, which requires all owners of rental units to pay annual fees to the Inspectional Services Department as part of its registration program. There are currently over 108,000 registered units in the City of Boston from over 16,000 different landlords. Of these, approximately 10,000 units would be eligible for a registration fee refund.

At the same time, Mayor Walsh has given a directive to the Inspectional Services Department to begin inspecting rental units in Boston this spring, focusing most of this years inspections on landlords with a history of code violations and compliance issues.

The Mayor referenced services and programs that may be available to help landlords repair units quickly and at lower cost.

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