Student housing in Boston has always been an issue. Even with this new data, one has to wonder what the city is planning to do about it.

Todd Wallack of the Boston Globe reports.

Boston zeroes in on overcrowded student housing

Boston housing officials have identified roughly 580 potentially overcrowded student apartments across the city, based on a first-ever analysis of university data, and plan to dispatch inspectors to each address to look for possible safety violations in coming months.

The city recently obtained the addresses for tens of thousands of college students living off campus after a Globe Spotlight report last spring found widespread overcrowding and substandard living conditions in Boston’s college neighborhoods. The Spotlight series found significant problems including rodents, broken windows, and malfunctioning smoke detectors.

Boston housing inspectors plan to confirm whether renters at the properties it flagged are actually violating a 2008 zoning rule barring more than four full-time undergraduate students from sharing the same apartment. They will also examine whether the units have unsafe living conditions, such as a lack of exits, that could pose an immediate hazard.

“For the first time, we have the data,” said William Christopher, the architect who took over Boston’s Inspectional Services Department last May. “It’s a great beginning.”

The city collected more than 25,000 addresses for students from 31 colleges. Using that list, city officials identified approximately 580 properties that appear to have five or more full-time undergraduate students living together in violation of city rules.

“There is a possibility of a zoning violation there,” said Christopher, explaining the process. “It’s accurate enough for us to move forward.”