About the Health Division of ISD

COVID-19: Updates for Construction and Food Service



  • All non-essential construction is required to be secured and made safe no later than March 27, 2020.
  • Construction occurring in/on occupied dwellings and all type of “emergency” work is considered essential. All new construction and construction of unoccupied buildings is considered non-essential.
  • Click here for FAQs with more information.
  • Any project determined to be essential and allowed to continue will be required to submit a Job Hazard Analysis and Safety Plan (example here) for the activities that are allowed to continue.

Food Service

  • All restaurant establishment are limited to “Take Out” and “Delivery” services
  • Grocery stores, convenience stores and “corner” stores are allowed to remain open and shall practice social distancing requirements to the fullest extent possible
  • No non-prepackage self-service food is allowed for purchase i.e. salad bars, olive bars, etc.



The mission of the Inspectional Services Health Division is to provide all residents and community members with consistent and high quality education, code enforcement, emergency services, and support to improve health and safety in the City of Somerville. The Health Division aims to continually improve health, safety, and code compliance in the City of Somerville by integrating its services with other city departments and maintaining its tradition of professionalism and high quality services. The Health Division works closely with the Health Department and the Board of Health and is responsible for the issuance and renewal of health-related licenses and responding to tenant complaints regarding violations of health codes.


License Issuance and Renewal

The Health Division is responsible for issuing licenses related to body art, retail space, food establishments, permanent on-site dumpster use, removal and disposal of trash from dumpsters, and other health-related commercial licenses.

Obtaining or Renewing a License: In order to obtain a license from the Health Division, please see the Forms Library, right, to download license applications, or pick up an application from the Health Division at 1 Franey Road, Somerville. Some health-related licenses, such as body art licenses and dumpster licenses, are self-explanatory. Other licenses, such as retail/food establishment licenses, may require additional information. Please call the Health Division to determine the applicable requirements for your specific situation.


Tenants and the State Sanitary Code

The Health Division protects housing tenants' health and safety by enforcing the State Sanitary Code related to tenants and living space. To view the State Sanitary Code, see the link to the right.

Tenant Rights: According to the State Sanitary Code, landlords in Massachusetts are required to keep rental property to certain health standards. If a property does not meet these standards, tenants can file a complaint with the Health Division of ISD.

Filing a Complaint: To file a complaint, a tenant must first have contacted the landlord and received no response or an unsatisfactory response. Once the tenant has tried to settle the matter with the landlord directly and failed, he or she may contact the Health Division by calling 311. The Health Division will then schedule an inspection of the property in question. If the inspection reveals that the State Sanitary Code has been violated, the Health Division will send the landlord an order to correct. Depending on the urgency of the situation, the landlord will have up to 30 days to correct the situation. If the landlord fails to correct the situation in the amount of time determined by the Health Division, he or she may be taken to court.

Key Health and Code Issues: The following is a list of issues commonly addressed by tenants and landlords in Somerville. To file a complaint for any of the reasons below, please follow the protocol under Filing a Complaint, above.

  • Asbestos: In cases where tenants suspect asbestos, the Health Division can inspect the property to make a determination. In the case of the presence of asbestos, the landlord must hire a licensed asbestos removal company to remove, repair, or encapsulate the asbestos.
  • Bed bugs: For more information on how to identify and get rid of bed bugs, please see the brochure link on the right.
  • Lead paint: In households with children under the age of six, the Health Division can conduct a lead paint test to determine the presence of lead. If there is lead present in a home with children under the age of six, the landlord will receive instructions to hire a licensed lead inspector and licensed contractor to remove or encapsulate the lead.
  • Mold: For visible mold, the Health Division can conduct an inspection. If visible mold is confirmed, the landlord must remove the mold. For mold and air quality inquiries, please contact a mold tech company for air quality testing.
  • Proper trash disposal: For guidelines on proper trash disposal, please see the brochure link on the right.
  • Roaches: If tenants suspect roaches, the Health Division can conduct an inspection. If the inspector finds roaches, the landlord must hire a licensed exterminator company.
  • Rodents: For outdoor rodent reports, Rodent Control will place bait every two weeks in sewers and catch basins nearby and follow up on the area until the bait is untouched. In cases of indoor rodent complaints, the Health Division can conduct an inspection. If evidence of indoor rodents is found, the landlord must hire a licensed exterminator company.