Massachusetts is one of the smallest states in the country, but it has a competitive real estate market. Suppose you are a rental business owner in this state. In that case, it's important to understand the landlord-tenant laws governing the lease of your property.
If you're wondering whether property owners in Massachusetts are allowed to raise the rent and what rent control restrictions apply, keep reading! We have drawn up a guide to help you understand Massachusetts rent control laws.
The state of Massachusetts forbids cities and counties from enacting their own rent control legislation and does not impose any rent control regulations. Therefore, landlords are free to set their own rental prices.
Although they are free to raise the rent to the preferred rate, landlords are not permitted to increase rent while a lease is in effect. At the end of the lease period, they are also required to give the tenant 30 days' notice before changing rental rates.
This allows renters time to decide whether to accept the price increase or look for another place to live.
Rent Control Cities
Massachusetts did not always forbid rent control. In fact, until the state outlawed them completely in 1994, several municipalities, such as Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge, had rent control policies in place.
The COVID-19 outbreak brought up this topic again in 2021 as a result of the country's rental crisis. In numerous cities, particularly Cambridge, where the rent issue was most serious, Massachusetts legislators tried to adopt rent control regulation and freeze policies.
All of them failed at state level, and Massachusetts has subsequently decided not to review its rent control laws. Tenant advocates that argued in favor of rent controls essentially wanted to provide renters with an indefinite claim on a rental property.
However, even those with economics expertise, such as Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, continue to bring up the concept of rent control even though most economists oppose it.
In Massachusetts, landlords are prohibited from increasing rent midway through a fixed-term lease for specific discriminatory grounds (such as race or age) or as retaliation unless expressly permitted by the lease contract.
The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for property owners to discriminate against tenants based on age, race, color, disability, familial status, religion, sexual orientation, or nationality.
Additionally, Massachusetts law forbids landlords from raising rent as retribution. If a landlord's action occurs within six months of something the renter does, it is regarded as retaliatory.
Here are instances when a rent increase will be seen as retaliation against a tenant:
- When the renter makes a complaint to the relevant authority about the health and safety of the rental units.
- If he or she creates a union or tenant association or joins one.
- Requesting repairs.
Regarding tenancies-at-will, Massachusetts law mandates that landlords provide tenants with at least 30 days' notice before raising rent or if longer, a period equivalent to the frequency of rental payments.
Suppose the rent is paid every three months. In that case, the landlord must give the tenant 60 days' notice.
Moreover, landlords must wait until the conclusion of the lease period before raising rent for renters with one-year leases. Although there isn't a notice period needed in this circumstance, landlords are encouraged to behave fairly and sensibly.
It's important to understand the rent control policies at play in Massachusetts. With a booming rental market, it's a great place to set up a rental business. Unlike many other states where local governments may impose their own laws, Massachusetts has no city or town rent control laws.
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Is there a restriction on the amount property owners in Massachusetts can raise the rent by?
No. Massachusetts law currently does not enforce rent control restrictions, and there is no legal limit to the amount that landlords can increase the rent by. Landlords are free to choose their own rent prices.
When can landlords raise rent prices in the state?
In Massachusetts, landlords are permitted to increase the rent at any time, provided they give the required notice, are not doing so during the fixed duration of the lease (unless the lease agreement specifically permits it), and do not do it to discriminate or retaliate against the tenant.
If a rental agreement has a clause that permits a rent hike during the lease period, it must specify the terms and conditions, including the precise amount. A tax escalator clause is the only circumstance in which the lease won't include the exact sum.
Is there a limit to the number of times that the rent can be increased?
No rent control regulation restricts the number of times a landlord can increase the rent.