I’m pretty excited to reach this milestone. After almost a year of building new features and enhancements to UpToCode, the free Massachusetts Tenant’s rights tool I’ve been developing at Lemma Legal, we’re ready for a soft launch!
The soft launch is for our new website, https://getuptocode.org, along with some major new features of the UpToCode interview itself.
UpToCode can now help you sue your landlord
The most important feature of UpToCode is that it can now help tenants sue their landlord in court. Tenants can use UpToCode to get help if their landlord:
- Doesn’t fix problems in their home
- Comes into the home without permission or without notice
- Tries an illegal self-help eviction, like changing locks
- Shuts off utilities
- Makes the tenant pay for utilities without a written agreement
UpToCode can also help tenants write a 93A Demand Letter. There are special features for tenants who get housing subsidies.
Tenants who aren’t ready to escalate by going to court can still use UpToCode to just understand their rights, send their landlord a formal letter that puts them on legal notice, or request an official inspection.
UpToCode now has a database of housing inspectors
One of the key features of UpToCode has always been the plain-language translated version of the housing code itself. With GetUpToCode.org, we’ve made this plain language housing code available online. And it’s in Spanish, too.
In addition to the code itself, UpToCode includes a list of the housing inspectors for each of Massachusetts’s cities and towns. Amazingly, there hasn’t ever been a public list like this! In some cities and towns the inspector is the Board of Health, and in others there is a special agency like the Inspectional Services Department. If we’ve done it right, this list will direct you to the right place.
UpToCode was funded by the Legal Services Corporation
These new features for UpToCode are all thanks to a grant from the Legal Services Corporation, the national funder for legal aid programs. Northeast Legal Aid requested and was awarded the grant, and they’ve been the legal aid partner on this project. Greater Boston Legal Services will be providing hosting of the interview.
Live on Reddit on 3/21
To help spread the word, I’ll be online on a Reddit AMA on the /r/Boston subreddit at 12 noon on March 21, 2023. Housing problems come up all the time on that Reddit and I’m looking forward to helping share this important free resource.
Translations to come
This is just a soft launch for now because there are two important milestones to come:
- A plain language “audit” of the interview’s text. This will help us make sure everything is written at a 4th-6th grade reading level.
- Updated full translations into Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and Chinese.
We are too excited to share what we have now to wait for those enhancements, as important as they are.
How to link to UpToCode
If UpToCode is a resource that you or a tenant you know could use, please always share the link as https://getuptocode.org. The link to the interactive interview on that page might change over time.