Section 198: Violations of state sanitary code; enforcement
Section 198. Violations of this section shall not constitute violations of the state sanitary code when (i) an owner has received a letter of full compliance, or (ii) an owner has received a letter of interim control; provided that in the case where an owner has received a letter of interim control and the tenant causes the unit to be inspected by a licensed inspector and found to be out of compliance, the sanitary code provisions will apply after fourteen days and until such time as the unit is recertified pursuant to subsection (b) of section one hundred and ninety-seven. If a tenant has a unit inspected by a licensed inspector, and the unit is found to be out of compliance, the owner shall pay the cost of such inspection. If a tenant has a unit inspected by a licensed inspector, and should the unit be found to be in compliance, the tenant shall pay the cost of such inspection.
Except as provided in the preceding paragraph, any violations of sections one hundred and ninety-six and one hundred and ninety-seven may be treated by any party as a violation of the state sanitary code and all procedures and remedies applicable to such violations of said sanitary code shall be available to correct, deter or punish violations of said sections. In any action in which a tenant is withholding rent due to lead paint and as a result of said action the landlord is required to abate, the judge, unless he finds that the landlord did not act in good faith shall order that any amounts that would be awarded to the tenant pursuant to a finding that the value of the housing was reduced by the violation of the lead law be applied to the costs of abatement; provided, however, that any amounts awarded to the tenant pursuant to a finding of any other violation of the sanitary code or any other law shall be retained by the tenant. The district, housing and superior courts shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of said sections to the same extent that said courts have jurisdiction to enforce said sanitary code.
All local boards of health or other code enforcement agencies, including in the city of Boston the commissioner of housing inspection shall enforce sections one hundred and ninety-four A, one hundred and ninety-six and section one hundred and ninety-seven in the same manner and with the same authority as they may enforce the sanitary code. The director shall provide by regulation for the implementation by local boards of health, code enforcement agencies and housing inspection agencies of the provisions of this section and the periodic reporting to him of the results of all actions undertaken hereunder by said boards and agencies.
The director shall have concurrent responsibility and authority to enforce sections one hundred and ninety-four A, one hundred and ninety-six and section one hundred and ninety-seven and in so doing shall have available to him all powers and authority which shall be available to local boards of health pursuant to sections one hundred and twenty-seven A to one hundred and twenty-seven K, inclusive.
Violations of sections one hundred and ninety-four A, one hundred and ninety-six and section one hundred and ninety-seven shall be treated as emergency matters, and shall be given preference by enforcing agencies and speedy hearings by district, housing and superior courts.