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On the Watertown Seal is a picture of an English Colonist and an Indian exchanging, as peace tokens,  bread for fish.  Captain Roger Clap landed at Nantasket Point in 1630 and rode up Charles River to Gerry's Landing with the first party of Watertown Colonists.
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Housing Program Introduction
Watertown Health Dept.
149 Main St.
Watertown, MA  02472

Phone: 617-972-6446
Fax: 617-972-6499

Monday - Friday
8:30 am - 5:00 pm
The Health Department is charged with enforcing the Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation, Chapter II of the State Sanitary Code 105 CMR 410.000. These regulations cover items including but not limited to defective equipment, electrical and heating issues, hot water issues, structural problems, windows, ventilation, lighting, asbestos, and other health and safety issues. It is the process by which the Health Department operates in regards to housing issues.

The Inspection Process
Tenant's Request
In order for the inspectors to conduct an inspection, the occupant of a dwelling unit must contact the Health Department and make a complaint. The occupant may make a request by phone, in person by visiting the Health Department, a written letter request, or by using Request Tracker. It is strongly recommended that when making a complaint, information such as the name of the requestor, telephone number(s) where the person can be reached, the apartment location, alleged violations, and the tenant's availability for an inspection. 

The Inspection
During the inspection the inspector will observe the alleged violations and offer an obligatory comprehensive inspection that may be accepted or declined by the occupant. Regardless if the comprehensive inspection is accepted the inspector will check critical items such as smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, egress conditions, hot water, and the heating facilities. When violations are observed they are documented in a report. When the report is completed the occupant and the inspector sign the inspection form and a copy is given to the occupant. During the review process the inspector will inform the occupant of the compliance process.

Letters and Fines
Once violations are documented an order to correct letter is sent to the landowner informing them of the violations and the corrective action needed for compliance. This letter also indicates how long the landowner has to correct the violations in the letter, landowner rights, and possible fines. The letter is properly served and a copy is sent to the occupant. 

The Re-inspection
After the order to correct letter has been received by the landowner and the corrective action time has elapsed, a re-inspection of the dwelling unit shall occur. During the re-inspection the inspector will check to see if all the violations listed in the order to correct letter have been corrected. If corrected the landowner will receive a complaince letter. If the violations are uncorrected, the Board of Health may file a court complaint against the landowner in order to gain compliance through the court system. Depending on the circumstances there may be more than one re-inspection. 

Please bear in mind.....
Since a complaint against the landowner has occured it is the occupant's responsibillity to allow the landowner and/or their representatives to enter the dwelling in order to correct the violations.

It is important to note that this process can create a tension between the occupant and the landowner. It is up to the occupant to gauge how the landowner will react and what the occupant can do to relieve this tension.

The process may involve multiple inspections and phone calls and may require referrals to other departments. It is important to remain open and patient during this process as we work toward compliance.

Frequently Asked Questions
Can the landowner evict me after a complaint is made and violations are noted?

No. The occupant has a right to make a complaint and has rights protecting them from retaliation. A synopsis of tenant's rights are described here.

What are the lead laws? How do I determine if there is lead in my dwelling unit?

Lead laws can be enforced when a child under the age of six living in a dwelling built before 1978 that contains lead hazards. To determine if the dwelling contains lead violations the occupant may hire a private lead testing company or may request a lead determination test from the Health Department. For more information about the lead laws, and health information regarding lead please contact the Massachusetts Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 1-800-532-9571. 

Do you have specific hours for conducting inspections?

Inspections are conducted during the normal Town Hall operating hours. Within that time, they are scheduled and conducted at the more convenient time for both the occupant and the inspector. 

Does the Health Department deal with mold issues in dwelling units?

No. The State Sanitary Code 105 CMR 410.000 does not specifically deal with mold. However, it does address issues that can lead to mold such as  water intrusion or chronic dampness.