This Reddit user shared a valuable tip to help deal with communication issues:
If communicating with your landlord is not working, you should call Inspectional Services at 617-635-5300 and schedule a free inspection. Do it within the first week of moving in.
We did this last year, and the inspector was very sympathetic to us as tenants. He made a list of things that the landlord needed to take care of (ceiling caving in, no covers on wall outlets, even the fact that we had no doorbell, though that might have been because he was frustrated when it took us ten minutes to realize he was standing at our door.) They gave the list to the landlord and told him he was required to fix everything within three weeks. They also noticed that we needed one more smoke detector and told him he had 48 hours to install one. I have to say, it was very satisfying to see our apathetic landlord reprimanded by the city.
NOTE: It can sometimes be very difficult to navigate the Board of Health phone system and reach the right person for scheduling this kind of inspection. Also, this must be done very soon after moving in, and someone has to be there when the inspector arrives. Be patient and considerate if the inspector doesn’t show up when they’re supposed to — they are truly busy people and they are on your side. It’s a free service, and it’s an important asset in the fight against sleazy landlords.