Unsafe Buildings in Boston [Interactive Map]

Published in Local News, Safety on October 2, 2020

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When thinking of what Boston is known for in terms of buildings one might think the answer to be architecture. But when doing research into problems that plague our city it seems that buildings with unsafe and dangerous conditions seems to be a serious issue.

With quite a number of  building collapses in Boston and as our map shows over 1123 currently unresolved “open” building citations with a description of unsafe and dangerous it seems that Boston residents face a serious danger of injuries from unsafe structures.

How many of these buildings collapses might have been prevented if these unsafe and dangerous citations were unresolved? From our research it takes over four years for the average citation to move from open to closedThis building in particular was cited five times before it eventually collapsed.

Another interesting fact we found in our research is there a heavy discrepancy in unsafe and dangerous buildings by city.

We at Sweeney Merrigan Law Firm are deeply invested in the safety and protection of our Boston community from accidents caused by negligence. We have created a map so our residents can visualize how frequently they might be inside or in close contact with a building that has been cited as unsafe and dangerous.

Boston Unsafe and Dangerous Building Map

Each point on our map below is of the 1123 citations listed by the Building and Structures Division of the Inspectional Services Department as “unsafe and dangerous. Of these 1123 citations it is worth noting that 353 of them fall under violation 116.1 which is listed under the building code of Massachusetts as “imminent danger.” Buildings that fall under building code 116.1 are the red points on the map below, and as you can see are the overwhelming majority of citations. Code 116.2 are codes in which temporary safeguards are ordered to be put into place to remove the imminent danger and are highlighted in orange. Anything falling under code 116 is the emergency measures code and it is unsettling the length of time many of them have remained open. Any points listed in purple are unsafe due to the “conditions” of the building. This is a map of unresolved citations since 2010 and citations that have been open the longest are the larger points and the shorter they have been open the smaller the points. On average most citations have been labeled as open for four plus years in Boston.

Boston Cities Which Have the Highest Frequency of Unsafe and Dangerous Buildings

In the map below we have separated unsafe and buildings violation by city and color coated them. Points in red are in the city of Dorchester, which had by far the highest amount of open building citations.

CityNumber of Violations
South Boston87
East Boston81
Hyde Park63
Jamaica Plain29
West Roxbury29
Mission Hill19

116.1 Imminent Danger

When, in the opinion of the code official, there is imminent danger of failure or collapse of a building that endangers life, or when any building or part of a building has fallen and life is endangered by the occupation of the building, or when there is actual or potential danger to the building occupants or those in the proximity of any structure because of explosives, explosive fumes or vapors, or the presence of toxic fumes, gases, or materials, or operation of defective or dangerous equipment, the code official is hereby authorized and empowered to order and require the occupants to vacate the premises forthwith. The code official shall cause to be posted at each entrance to such structure a notice reading as follows: “This Structure Is Unsafe and Its Occupancy Has Been Prohibited by the Code Official.” It shall be unlawful for any person to enter such structure except for the purpose of securing the structure, making the required repairs, removing the hazardous condition, or of demolishing the same.

Definition of Unsafe & Dangerous

UNSAFE. Buildings, structures or equipment that are unsanitary, or that are deficient due to inadequate means of egress facilities, inadequate light and ventilation, or that constitute a fire hazard, or in which the structure or individual structural members meet the definition of “Dangerous,” or that are otherwise dangerous to human life or the public welfare, or that involve illegal or improper occupancy or inadequate maintenance shall be deemed unsafe. A vacant structure that is not secured against entry shall be deemed unsafe.

DANGEROUS. Any building, structure or portion thereof that meets any of the conditions described below shall be deemed dangerous:

  1. The building or structure has collapsed, partially collapsed, moved off its foundation or lacks the support of ground necessary to support it.
  2. There exists a significant risk of collapse, detachment or dislodgment of any portion, member, appurtenance or ornamentation of the building or structure under service loads.

What Happens if You Are Injured in A Building that is not up to Code in Boston?

If you are injured on another person’s property in the Boston area you may have a case against that person to claim damages. You will have expensive medical bills as well as other financial problems that come with having an injury. Property owners have a duty to uphold their buildings to certain legal standards in the Boston area. If a building has been cited for a code violation that is seen as dangerous, and a person is injured due to the property owner’s negligence in not fixing the dangerous structure then the property owner may be liable for damages.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an unsafe structure in the Boston area, the personal injury lawyers at Sweeney Merrigan are ready to fight for you. We will hold the responsible parties accountable for your injuries and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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