Special conditions for rooming houses

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David Brown and Geoff Ketcham

The requirements of the state Sanitary Code generally apply to rooming houses just as they apply to apartments. For example, in a rooming house—just as in an apartment—the owner is responsible for providing heat and hot water, exterminating, and making repairs.15 For more information about what the state Sanitary Code requires, see Housing Code Checklist (Booklet 2).

There are 3 situations where the state Sanitary Code has different requirements for rooming houses. They involve:

  • Cooking,
  • Bathrooms, and
  • Floor space.

A rooming house owner is not required under state law to provide cooking facilities in a rooming house. However, if the owner chooses to provide common cooking facilities, they must include a sink, a stove, an oven in good repair (unless you agree to provide the stove and oven in a written lease agreement), space for food storage, and a refrigerator.16

A rooming house owner can provide individual cooking facilities only in individual rooms that have a floor space of at least 150 square feet.17 If an owner provides individual cooking facilities, then they must include a gas or electric plate, a refrigerator, and a sink with hot and cold running water.

If the space you rent has cooking facilities and 2 adjoining rooms, then the landlord must provide a gas or electric range, a refrigerator, a sink with hot and cold running water, and storage area for your food.18

Microwave ovens are permitted in lodging house rooms or common areas.19


A landlord must provide a toilet, washbasin, and a shower or a bathtub for every 8 rooming house occupants. If the bathroom facilities are shared, the landlord is responsible for cleaning them every 24 hours.20 A landlord may choose to provide separate bathroom facilities for each room, but is not required to do so.

Floor Space

A rooming house room used for sleeping only (no individual cooking facilities) must have at least 80 square feet of space for a single person and 60 square feet for each person when 2 or more share a room.21 As stated above in the section on Cooking, if your room has individual cooking facilities, it must be at least 150 square feet.



15 . South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Inc. v. Brown, Western Housing Court, 13-CV-938 (Fields, J., June 26, 2014) .

16 . G.L. c. 140, §22A.

17 . G.L. c. 140, §22A. "[A] lodging house where lodgings are let to more than five but less than twenty persons may furnish individual cooking facilities for the preparation, serving, eating and storage of food; provided that no such facility shall be furnished in a room having an area of less than one hundred fifty square feet." Note that where a unit consists of 2 adjoining rooms, where cooking facilities are provided, a gas or electric range (as opposed to a hot plate for a single room), sink with hot and cold running water, and storage area for food must be included in addition to a refrigerator.

18 . G.L. c. 140, §22A.

19 . G.L. c. 140, §22B.

20 . 105 C.M.R. §§410.150(B), 410.151; Bowditch LLC v. Fondakowski, Western Housing Court, 12-SP-3465, (Fields, J., March 14, 2013) (discussing owner obligation and liability for failure to keep facilities clean).

21 . 105 C.M.R. §410.400(C).


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