Following the law is always the best way to go when it comes to arrangements of any kind, and this is not the exception. While each state has its particular rules for rental agreements, it's important to note that there are some Massachusetts landlord tenant laws that also need to be met by all the parties involved.
One of the reasons why landlords and tenants get into leasing conflicts is because they don't follow the lease agreement accordingly. Keep in mind that the key to a healthy rental relationship is complying with state law.
Before diving into specifics, it's vital to understand the base of every lease contract. In this article, you're going to look at an overview of the Massachusetts landlord-tenant law so that you know the things that may or may not affect you in your lease arrangement.
Remember that you should seek legal advice from a real estate manager if you need any specific legal help.
What Should a Landlord Include in a Rental Agreement?
All the information regarding Massachusetts landlord-tenant law was drafted by the Office of the Attorney General. It includes the base regulations that every landlord and tenant should follow for a legally compliant rental agreement.
Rental agreements are not needed for tenancies that are lower than 12 months long. However, it's recommended that landlords always draft a written agreement regardless of the duration of the lease.
The landlord may include specific clauses regarding their tenancy requirements. They must also provide the following information in their document:
- Description of the rental unit.
- Duration of the lease.
- Amount of rent, due date, and late fees.
- Landlord and tenant's rights and responsibilities
- Security deposits.
Is Massachusetts a Landlord-Friendly State?
Some people consider Massachusetts a landlord-friendly state because it generally doesn't enforce rent control policies. However, the commonwealth tends to put a high number of restrictions on fees that landlords can charge their tenants.
Landlords' Rights in Massachusetts
Massachusetts law allows landlords to collect rent payments when it's due. It also allows the landlord to use a security deposit to deduct for extreme damage that exceeds regular wear and tear, and request the tenant to keep their property in good repair and condition.
Landlords' Obligations in Massachusetts
According to Massachusetts landlord-tenant law, landlords must comply with the safety regulations of the local Board of Health; this involves keeping essential services provided by the landlord, such as utilities, gas lines, electrical wiring, water, and air conditioning in good condition when the prospective tenants inspect the place.
On the other hand, the Massachusetts landlord-tenant law requires the landlord to make repairs whenever needed by the tenant. These repairs need to be answered upon written notice and completed in a reasonable amount of time. (Usually 14 days since the notice was sent).
If the landlord fails to do this, the tenant may withhold rent payments until the landlord finishes the repairs. This is known in Massachusetts law as the "Repair and Deduct" right.
Tenants' Rights in Massachusetts
Tenant rights in Massachusetts allow them to request a habitable renting unit at all times. If any of the property's utilities are damaged, the tenant may legally provide a written notice to the landlord. If the landlord cannot provide the repair services within 14 days, they may face rent withhold or court claims.
Additionally, Massachusetts landlord-tenant law allows tenants to claim their security deposits once they decide to end the rental agreement.
Tenants' Obligations in Massachusetts
The Office of the Attorney General in Massachusetts states that the tenant must comply with several requirements to keep the rental apartment contract in check. Keep in mind that these rules may be adjusted to fit the landlords' rights and needs.
- Pay rent on time.
- Not disturb neighbors or other tenants.
- Do small repairs and maintenance jobs when needed.
- Keep the leased property in good condition.
Landlord-Tenant Law Clauses
Massachusetts law requires both the landlord and the tenant to follow general clauses specific for each state. If you want to know what the Massachusetts landlord-tenant clauses are, keep reading this table of contents.
The Massachusetts landlord-tenant law doesn't require landlords to charge their tenant a specific amount of rent. This means that a landlord may charge their tenant any amount that they consider appropriate for their apartment.
Rent payments in Massachusetts can be paid in any way that the landlord feels comfortable with. However, the landlord may ask the tenant to pay the first month of rent before they move into the apartment.
If the landlord wants to raise the rent for the tenant, they may do it before the tenancy term ends. In the case of at-will tenants, the landlord must provide at least 30 days' notice.
Massachusetts landlord-tenant laws require landlords to provide their tenant a receipt of the payment. These receipts should be given within 30 days of receiving the payment.
As for grace periods, landlords must wait 30 days after the rent expires to provide the tenant a warning or an eviction notice. If the tenant doesn't pay within these 30 days of notice, the tenancy is considered terminated.
Last but not least, Massachusetts landlord-tenant laws don't require late fees for rental agreements. However, they are heavily recommended to encourage tenants to pay rent.
Security Deposit Clauses
Landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts don't require landlords to collect a security deposit, but they are recommended to cover certain damages to the property or unpaid rent.
A security deposit may not exceed an amount equal to one month's rent, and it has to be stored in a separate, interest-bearing account from Massachusetts. The landlord must provide the tenant a receipt within 30 days of receiving the security deposit.
Landlords in Massachusetts are not legally allowed to collect additional holding deposits, pet fees, or rental fees at the time of the tenant moving in.
Tenants are legally allowed to collect their security deposit whenever they leave the leased property. If the landlord doesn't return the required security deposit within one month, he may be liable for up to three times the security deposit value.
The landlord may withhold part of the security deposit in cases of unpaid rent, excessive damage to the property, violation of the lease terms, or unpaid utilities.
Eviction and Termination Clauses
Landlords can send their tenant a notice for eviction for several legal reasons, which can be seen below:
- The tenant doesn't pay on time.
- If the tenant breaches the lease terms.
- A tenant engages in criminal activity.
If the landlord is having an at-will tenant, they're required to provide a seven-day or 30-day written eviction notice, depending on the type of lease. The tenant needs to leave within that time frame to prevent any legal issues.
Alternatively, tenants can terminate the lease for any reason they consider appropriate, but they're required to give at least a 30-day written notice if they're on a monthly lease. In the case of yearly leases, the written notice interval depends on the frequency of payments (Usually, these cases are from trimestral payments).
Finally, tenants may terminate the lease before it ends in cases of active military duty, landlord harassment or domestic violence, or early termination terms. Landlords aren't allowed to engage in retaliatory actions to evict the tenant from their property; if the tenant files a court claim for retaliation and the landlord responds negatively within six months, they may be exposed to legal consequences.
See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for Massachusetts.
Landlord's Right to Entry
Landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts don't specify any information regarding entry notices for landlords, meaning that landlords theoretically can enter their property whenever they consider it appropriate. However, most landlords and tenants come to arrangements on their minimum and maximum required notice for entry, which is usually 24 hours.
Massachusetts laws can benefit both landlords and tenants if they're followed properly. Landlords must be compliant with these rules if they want to promote a safer environment in their property for their tenant; alternatively, the tenant needs to agree with all the laws and terms in the lease document before deciding to move into the property.
If you want to know more about landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts, consider seeking legal advice.
What are the mandatory disclosures in Massachusetts?
Here is a list of mandatory disclosures that every Massachusetts landlord must give the tenant at the time of drafting a lease document.
- Contact Information of All the Parties Involved
- Insurance Provider
- Location of the Security Deposit
- Lead Paint
How do the landlord-tenant laws differ in Boston?
The city of Boston has its own municipal code, which varies slightly from the Massachusetts laws. This code includes the Rent Equity Board, which is responsible for establishing a maximum rent price for landlords. Read more about the Boston Municipal Code.
What is the state sanitary code in Massachusetts?
The tenant may be eligible for a health and safety property inspection from a code enforcement or local board of health inspector if the landlord fails to provide the necessary maintenance to the property. Read more about the State Sanitary Code in Massachusetts.
How does domestic violence on the property affect the lease agreement?
Landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts provide protection for domestic violence victims, sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination. If the tenant suffered from any kind of domestic violence or harassment, they're allowed to terminate the lease, but they must provide proof of their claims.
On the other hand, the tenant may request the landlord to change the locks of the property as a security measure. Landlords must keep a safe environment for their tenant at all times, and this is one important measure to achieve that.