If you are a Massachusetts landlord, knowing and understanding the landlord-tenant laws is essential. This knowledge can help you perform your duties and responsibilities more efficiently, as well as handle any legal issues.
Required Landlord Disclosures in Massachusetts
Here are the following disclosures that landlords must disclose:
There is no statute about nonrefundable fees in the landlord-tenant law in Massachusetts. However, it is recommended that any non-refundable charges be included in the lease agreement. Otherwise, the tenant may demand a refund upon the end of the lease.
In Massachusetts, landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit from tenants. Within 30 days of collecting the deposit landlords are required to disclose where they are holding it. The receipt must include the bank’s name, its location, the account number, and the amount of the deposit.
Rights of Domestic Violence Victims
A rental agreement or lease in Massachusetts may contain a clause stating the tenant and their children’s special statutory rights to legally break a lease early, if they are confronting a situation of domestic violence, including stalking.
Truth in Renting Act
The Massachusetts landlord-tenant law does not have a statute about the truth in renting act.
Owner or Agent Identity
According to the Massachusetts law, the rental agreement must include the identity of the landlord, including his name, address, and contact information.
In addition, the landlord must also disclose the identity of any person or entity authorized to act on behalf of the landlord.
If Massachusetts landlords charge a security deposit, they are required to provide an inventory of the rental property’s physical condition. This should be provided as a move-in checklist, which must be given to the tenant within 10 days of the move-in date.
Fire Insurance Information
If a Massachusetts tenant sends a written request for the fire insurance information, the landlord is mandated to provide it within 15 days of the request. The landlord should disclose the name of the company that insures the rental property against damage or loss by fire, the amount of insurance, and the name of the person or entity who will receive the proceeds of the insurance.
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
The following are the basic rights of every tenant throughout a tenancy. The Massachusetts tenant rights are to:
- A habitable dwelling
- Engage in the housing market without fear of being discriminated against
- Terminate the lease early due to legal reasons such as active military duty, domestic violence, or landlord harassment
- Not be evicted as retaliation for exercising their rights as a renter
The following are the base tenant responsibilities in the state of Massachusetts. A tenant must:
- Pay rent on a timely and regular basis
- Keep the rental home in a clean and habitable state
- Maintain the fixtures and appliances, and keep them clean and sanitary
- Perform small repairs and maintenance as agreed upon by the landlord
- Try to not make loud noises and perform other activities that may disturb other tenants or neighbors
Massachusetts Landlord Rights and Responsibilities
A Massachusetts landlord also has rights and responsibilities. Here are the basic rights of a landlord in Massachusetts:
- The right to enter the premises with reasonable advance notice to make repairs and inspect the unit. Or if the unit is abandoned, with a court order, and in emergency situations
- The right to charge whatever amount they want in rental prices
- The right to increase the rent as long as they provide at least 30 days’ notice prior to the effective date.
- The right to receive 30 days’ written notice from month-to-month tenants who plan to terminate the lease
- The right to evict tenants for legal reasons, such as lease violation, failure to pay rent, no lease or end of the lease, and being involved in illegal acts
The following are the basic landlord responsibilities in the state of Massachusetts. Landlords must:
- Provide a habitable dwelling for the tenants
- Comply with the health and building codes
- Follow the eviction process under the Massachusetts law
- Address repair issues within 14 days of the request
- Return the security deposit (less allowable deductions) within 30 days from the move-out date
The Landlord-Tenant Laws in Massachusetts
Tenant Privacy and Landlord’s Right to Enter the Dwelling
A Massachusetts landlord can only enter the premises of a tenant for specific reasons. Such reasons include:
- Make repairs or alterations, provided that the landlord gives reasonable prior notice
- Inspect the property
- Show the property to prospective tenants or buyers if the tenant provides a notice to vacate
- If the property is abandoned
- With a court order
- Emergency situations
Maintenance and Required Repairs in the Unit
Landlrods have a responsibility to keep their rental units habitable throughout a tenancy. Here are some characteristics that fall under habitable rental unit according to property laws:
- Walls, floors, ceilings, staircases, and railings are in good condition
- Has water, heat, air conditioning, gas lines, fixtures, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors
- Complies with the safety standards when it comes to electrical wiring, outlets, plumbing, and sanitation
- No bed bugs
- Working appliances
Massachusetts’ Housing Discrimination Laws
In Massachusetts, landlords are required to comply with the Fair Housing Act. They should not discriminate against individuals based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, or disability.
In addition to these protected classes, Massachusetts state law also protects tenants from being discriminated against based on income source, military status, marital status, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, or genetic information.
A Massachusetts landlord may require tenants to pay a security deposit with a maximum limit equivalent to one month’s rent. Landlords can use a security deposit if the tenant has unpaid rent.
Small Claims Lawsuits
Conflicts over security deposits are not uncommon in Massachusetts. If tenants want their deposit back, they have the right to sue landlords in small claims court for up to $7,000. Legal tactics in small claims court can vary, make sure to get legal representation if this happens.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.