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Massachusetts Rental Laws - An Overview of Landlord Tenant Rights

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 property owners must make in their lease or rental agreement prior to leasing their property to a tenant:

Nonrefundable Fees

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.

Security Deposit

Under Massachusetts landlord-tenant laws, landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit from a tenant. 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 landlord-tenant law, the rental agreement must include the identity of the landlord, including his name, address, and contact information.

two people exchanging property keys

In addition, the landlord must also disclose the identity of any person or entity authorized to act on behalf of the landlord.

Move-in Checklist

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, according to Massachusetts landlord-tenant law, 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 under Massachusetts landlord-tenant law. The Massachusetts tenant rights are to:

  1. A habitable dwelling
  2. Engage in the housing market without fear of being discriminated against
  3. Terminate the written lease early due to legal reasons such as active military duty, domestic violence, or landlord harassment
  4. Not face the formal eviction process as retaliation for exercising their rights as a tenant

children playing with a toy train in the living room with a parent

The following are the base tenant responsibilities in the state of Massachusetts. A tenant must:

  1. Make a monthly rent payment on a timely and regular basis
  2. Keep the rental home in a clean and habitable state
  3. Maintain the fixtures and appliances, and keep them clean and sanitary
  4. Perform small repairs and maintenance as agreed upon by the landlord
  5. 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:

  1. 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
  2. The right to charge whatever amount they want in rental prices
  3. The right to increase the rent as long as they provide at least 30 days’ notice prior to the effective date.
  4. The right to receive 30 days’ written notice from month-to-month tenants who plan to terminate the lease
  5. 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:

  1. Provide a habitable dwelling for the tenants
  2. Comply with the health and building codes

cleaning a table

  1. Follow the eviction process under the Massachusetts law
  2. Address repair issues within 14 days of the request
  3. Return the security deposit (less allowable deductions) within 30 days from the move-out date

The Landlord-Tenant Laws in Massachusetts

The following are elements that make up Massachusetts landlord-tenant laws:

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

Landlords have a responsibility to keep their rental units habitable throughout a tenancy for their tenant. 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 and treat each tenant fairly. They should not discriminate against individuals based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, or disability.

two people in a tenant screening interview

In addition to these protected classes, Massachusetts state law also protects a tenant from being discriminated against based on income source, military status, marital status, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, or genetic information.

Security Deposits

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.

Bottom Line

Having an understanding of the state's landlord-tenant law is vital for both a landlord and their tenant. This ensures that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities. For landlords seeking stability, consider the benefits of working with a property management company like Fall River Property Management!

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.

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