Renters: Responsibilities and Resources
Residential rental properties with three or fewer dwelling units are required to have an approved parking plan that is posted inside the rental unit. Cars parked in unauthorized areas will be subject to ticketing. If the approved parking plan is not posted in your unit, please contact your landlord. If you are unable to obtain a copy from your landlord, please notify the Department of Building and Housing Inspection. You can also find approved parking plans can be downloaded from the Town’s document center. Using the pull down menu, select Building Department as the category. Another pull-down menu will appear for sub-categories of documents, select Off Street Parking Requirements from this menu to access copies of approved off-street parking plans.
The definition of family in the Mansfield Zoning Regulations limits the number of unrelated individuals that can live in a dwelling unit regardless of the number of bedrooms or parking spaces provided. Rental units registered with the Town prior to August 15, 2010 are allowed a maximum of 4 unrelated individuals; units registered with the Town on or after that date are allowed a maximum of 3 unrelated individuals unless they meet the following exceptions identified in the definition of family contained in the Mansfield Zoning Regulations:
Occupants that meet the criteria of a “functional family” as defined in the Mansfield Zoning Regulations; and
Groups that are protected by the “reasonable accommodation criteria” of the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act or Fair Housing Act.
Guests who frequently stay overnight at the residence may be deemed occupants for the purposes of determining compliance with these regulations.
While it is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure compliance with these limits, correction of violations can have significant impacts on renters. If a unit is found to be in violation, one or more of the occupants may need to find new housing. As a renter, you can take steps to protect yourself and your roommates from the disruption that can accompany an occupancy violation:
Know the maximum occupancy of your unit. Many rental properties advertise the number of bedrooms in a particular unit. However, the maximum number of unrelated occupants has no relationship to the number of bedrooms. In other words, 6 bedrooms does not mean 6 (or more) roommates. Before you sign a lease, verify the maximum number of unrelated occupants that can live in your unit. If you and your roommates exceed the maximum allowable occupancy, having a lease will not protect you from the potential of having to move on short notice when the violation is identified.
Make sure that you are a signatory to the lease. A lease is the legal document establishing your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. If you are living in a unit but are not a signatory to the lease, you do not have the same rights or protections as recognized tenants on the lease. For example, if catastrophe strikes and your unit is no longer habitable, tenants that are signatories to the lease may be eligible for relocation assistance; other occupants are not.
Some landlords may limit the number of signatories to the lease in an effort to demonstrate compliance with maximum occupancy regulations. In these situations, occupants not listed on the lease are typically the ones required to move when a violation is identified since landlords have no legal obligation to those individuals.
Limit overnight guests. In many neighborhoods, the first indication that there are too many occupants is the number of vehicles parked on the property. If the same vehicles are routinely parked on the property, that is an indication that the owners/drivers of those vehicles are residing at the residence as opposed to being an occasional guest. This is true regardless of whether the vehicles are located in an approved parking space.
Contact the Zoning Enforcement Officer if you have any questions regarding legal occupancy of a particular rental unit.
Noise and Nuisance Ordinances
As a resident of Mansfield, you are responsible for complying with all local laws, including noise and nuisance ordinances. Violations can result in the issuance of municipal citations, and, in extreme cases, criminal arrests if activity is in violation of state criminal laws. The Town would much rather prevent nuisances than issue citations, so if you are planning on hosting a gathering at your residence, here are some suggestions to reduce the potential of nuisance activities:
Respect your neighbors. Keep in mind that your neighbors may have a different schedule from yours, and noisy, large gatherings may disrupt their ability to enjoy their homes. If you are planning an event, talk to your neighbors in advance and ask them to call you with any problems that arise during the party. If they call or come over during the party with complaints regarding noise or guest behavior, take steps to address those complaints immediately. Ignoring their requests will likely result in a call to the police and potential issuance of a nuisance citation to each resident. Also reach out to your neighbors after a party to find out if there was anything that bothered them so that you can avoid that problem in the future.
Size matters-the larger the gathering, the more likely it will create a nuisance. Keep your guest list small and stick to it; if someone isn’t on the guest list, don’t let them onto the property. If you are unable to prevent unwanted guests from joining the party, call the police for help. If you are proactive about asking for help in controlling the situation, you are less likely to be cited for creating a nuisance.
Manage your guests. As the host, you are responsible for your guest’s behavior. If they are disruptive and creating a nuisance, ask them to leave. While they may receive a citation for their behavior, you will too.
Notify your landlord of your plans in advance. Many leases include restrictions on parties and events. Make sure that you are in compliance with your lease and that your landlord doesn’t have any objections to your plans. Keep in mind, your landlord is also subject to fines if multiple nuisance violations are issued on the property within certain timeframes.
Contact the Resident Trooper’s office in advance (860.429.6024) to notify them of the event, the projected size and get tips on how to manage the event, including how you plan to prevent underage drinking. If they think that the proposed guest list is too large, they will let you know. If you are not receptive to reducing the size of the party, they will also reach out to your landlord to make sure they are aware of the event and the potential for a nuisance violation.
Resources for Renters