Last week, my off-campus house wasn’t the only one to receive an unexpected delivery. In the form of a little green envelope—which, for the record, would have been pretty cute stationary if it had different contents—the city served up my first taste of tenancy.
Okay, so a $25 fine isn’t the end-all-be-all of off-campus housing. Really, it wasn’t enough to dwindle my first day of school spirit and I almost appreciated the sense of camaraderie it facilitated as I walked up Gerald Rd. and passed envelopes taped to every other house. They were swinging, mockingly, from glass doors, weathered pillars, and mailboxes, essentially screaming “notice me, suckers” from their neon packaging. I found out, upon opening, that the envelope was a costly reminder from Boston’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) to not leave trash out on the curb unless it was 5 p.m. the evening before trash day.
Makes sense—I wouldn’t want my street to be covered by more glass and garbage than it already is consumed by after every weekend When hundreds of undergraduates have just moved out of and into these residences, however, a little trash can be expected—especially when both your landlord and a Boston College off-campus representative have told you to leave everything from used clorox wipes to empty Keurig boxes on the curb. So I am, obviously, still a little bitter about this misunderstanding, but it could have been worse—which I later found out was a reality for many of my neighbors. My roommates and I got hit with a relatively small fine, which is still pretty stiff on a college kid’s budget, but just a block away a house of friends accrued over $300 in fines in just their first week—all because of move-in trash that their landlord advised them to leave outside.
The City of Boston, its Mayor, its residents, and its major publications have been pretty interested in this landlord-city relationship this past week. Namely, The Boston Globe recently published multiple articles concerning the impressive number of violations and fines issued to landlords in the week following Sept. 1. With Boston being, quite literally, a Hub for students, it makes sense for the city to be concerned with this issue—but is Boston more concerned with its landlord’s problems than the students who will be the ones facing them?
“The city of Boston issued more than 3,500 fines to landlords for flouting property codes,” writes a Globe article from last week, implying that the landlords are the ones who will be picking up the check for these infractions. As a romantic 20-year-old undergraduate who thought off-campus living would be all drinking out of mason jars and finally (FINALLY) getting to use candles in my room, I can tell you that such is not the case.
Although the trash that was left on my curb was more than just five roommates’ empty boxes, including paint and cleaning supplies left from our landlord’s refurbishing staff, and though I was told by both him and a BC rep that we could leave it there, I am still the one who has to cough up the city’s cash. This time it was a mere $25, but what if the next violation that I unknowingly incur is more? What if it is $50 for leaving my trash can slightly open, or a week of forgetting to shovel my sidewalk when the snow inevitably hits this winter, which, at a fine of $15 a day, would add up to $105—both very real Boston ordinances. Some of us could use that cash for ramen noodles, red cups, textbooks, or other undergraduate necessities.
So you may win this time, landlords and the ISD. I’ll pay your fine, just as I’m sure that my friends and neighbors will. We will succumb to the first round of your mildly inconvenient, yet safety-oriented, city codes and ordinances, but don’t think we will allow you to take advantage of us in the coming months. We may be new to this whole renting thing, and at times a little trashy (pun intended), but next time an envelope ends up on my doorstep, I won’t be as quick to pull out my wallet.
Featured Image by Will Mennicken / Heights Staff