MIT Association of Independent Living Groups

Facilities Management: Expectations and Baseline Practices

Revision 1.2 (September 12, 2010)

This document is a brief but hopefully concise introduction to facilities management from the point of view of the alumni house corporation of an MIT FSILG. This document is divided into four sections:
(1) a definition and explanation of the basic level of maintenance required, (2) a list of responsibilities (i.e., issues needing attention), (3) a brief overview of municipal licensing and inspection requirements, and (4) a list of resources.

For a much more thorough discussion of all of these issues, see the HM101 House Manager's Manual.

1. Expectations

MIT and the Association of Independent Living Groups (AILG) expect that all FSILG houses will be safe, secure, clean, comfortable, conducive to learning, proactively managed, and appropriately inspected and licensed. It is the goal of the AILG Facilities committee to provide assistance to houses in meeting their facilities-related responsibilities.

There is no presumption that all houses will be managed identically, that any kind of one-size-fits-all prescription about facilities management would make sense. (We take the “I” in “AILG” seriously.) But it is possible to list some baseline expectations about what is or is not acceptable.

In particular, here are some specific examples of what is expected of an MIT FSILG. These lists are not comprehensive – no such lists could ever be – but they should paint a picture of the basic level of management that a well-run house ought to be achieving. Many houses will choose to do a lot more.

It is also useful to prioritize the sorts of problems that come up. We can distinguish between those that are serious and should be dealt with soon, versus those that are urgent and must be dealt with immediately. But in any case: for any of these problems, no one should be saying “Oh, it's always been that way”, or “Well, that's not really a problem” – these are problems.


All wiring must be safe, professionally installed, and conforming to applicable electrical codes.
The electrical system must be adequate for the loads placed upon it.

Serious problems that should be dealt with soon:

Urgent problems that must be dealt with immediately:


All plumbing (hot and cold water supplies, and drains) must be professionally installed, and conforming to applicable plumbing codes.

Serious problems that should be dealt with soon:

Urgent problems that must be dealt with immediately:

Other Systems

The building must be secure against the weather, against intruders, and against pests (insects and rodents). The heating system must be functional and properly maintained, and reliable enough for a New England winter.

Serious problems that should be dealt with soon:

Urgent problems that must be dealt with immediately:

2. Responsibilities

Managing any house is a big responsibility. Our FSILGs require at least as much management and maintenance as an ordinary residential home. But of course they actually require much more: they're bigger than the average single-family home; they receive more wear and tear; and they're subject to considerably more municipal regulation and inspection.

Different houses will apportion responsibilities differently. In many houses, the residents take care of minor maintenance. In most houses, the alumni house corporation takes care of major issues. Some houses will choose to do some work themselves, others will defer everything to paid professionals. But: for each of the issues listed here, it is important that someone be monitoring them, proactively scheduling periodic maintenance where appropriate, and actively reacting to any problems that might occur. Our buildings do not tend to take care of themselves.

Several of these issues (particularly involving Life Safety) are professionally managed on a systemwide basis, and tracked by the AILG Safety, Licensing, and Inspections (SLI) system.

Basic Maintenance Responsibilities

life safety systems, part 1

life safety systems, part 2

Other aspects of fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, central fire/CO alarm systems, and kitchen “Ansul” systems are professionally managed on a systemwide basis, and tracked by the SLI system.

Perennial Issues

There are some issues which, sadly but traditionally, just never go away. No matter how often they're dealt with, these issues have a way of coming back, again and again. There's probably no “silver bullet” to resolve these issues once and for all – they just require constant vigilance, and hopefully won't turn into sources of constant conflict.

3. Licensing and Inspections

Municipal Licensing and Inspections are overseen and facilitated by the AILG Safety, Licensing, and Inspections (SLI) system. Much can be said about licensing and inspectional issues; what follows is the briefest possible introduction. See the SLI webpage ( for more information.

All of our houses have licenses which are required in order to operate. The granting of those licenses is contingent on yearly inspections, which result in inspection certificates. The nomenclature surrounding the licenses and the inspection certificates varies between cities, as does the schedule for the inspections and license renewals.

Boston: yearly ISD inspection, yearly dormitory license reissue (cycle varies), yearly BFD inspection (typically Fall)

Cambridge: yearly ISD inspection, yearly lodging license reissue (typically April-May)

Brookline: ?

The status of all licenses and inspections is nominally tracked for each house by the SLI document registration system, but someone from each house must monitor the process, and submit certain documents when necessary.

The AILG SLI Building Safety Facilitator (BSF) assists with inspections and preinspections, and is available for consultation on related issues.

4. Resources