Looking for clear and concise information on Massachusetts landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Act.
MA Landlord Tenant Law
The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.
A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.
A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.
Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks. Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)
The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap. 42 U.S.C. § 3604
*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.
Massachusetts landlord tenant law also prohibits landlords from rejecting someone for having one or more children under six years old. M.G.L. ch.111 §199A, M.G.L. ch.186 §16
In addition, Massachusetts landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating renters because of their age, ancestry, military background, sexual preference or marital status. M.G.L. ch.151B §4.(6),(7)
However if the dwelling has two or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws. M.G.L. ch.151B §4.(11)
(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)
Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.
To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.
After the landlord has agreed to rent and obtained the tenant's signature, he or she must deliver a signed copy of the lease to the tenant within 30 days. M.G.L. ch.186 §15D
Massachusetts landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:
According to Massachusetts landlord tenant law M.G.L. ch.186 §15, your lease agreement CANNOT:
The following Massachusetts security deposit laws do NOT apply if you're renting a property for vacation or recreation for 100 days or less. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(9)
Massachusetts landlord tenant law allows the landlord to ask for up to one month's rent as security deposit. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(1)(b)(iii)
Massachusetts landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in an interest-bearing account of a bank in Massachusetts. This account cannot contain other types of funds. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(3)(a)
Within 30 days of receiving the deposit, the landlord has to give the tenant a receipt with the following details (of the deposit account):
If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant can ask the landlord to return the security deposit immediately. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(3)(a)
The landlord has to pay the tenant interest earned by the deposit account every one year. If the tenancy is terminated before a full year, the landlord shall pay the tenant pro-rated interest within 30 days. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(3)(b)
Massachusetts landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Massachusetts landlord tenant law) include:
The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(4)(iii)
Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit (plus interest) within 30 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(4)(iii)
If the landlord fails to follow Massachusetts landlord tenant law for holding, deducting or returning security deposit, the tenant can sue the landlord for three times the security deposit amount with additional 5% interest PLUS court costs and attorney fees. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(6)(a),(d),(e),(7)
Boston, Massachusetts MA
The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.
By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid on the same day of every month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property.
Massachusetts landlord tenant law allows the landlord can collect a maximum of two month's rent (first and last month) before a tenancy begins. MGL Ch.186, Sec.15B.(1)(b)
If the landlord (or landlord's agent) collected the last month's rent in advance, he or she has to give the tenant a receipt for it. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(2)(a)
If the landlord wants to impose late rent fees, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement.
The landlord can only charge late fees when rent payment is at least 30 days overdue. M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(1)(c)
The landlord can charge the tenant up to $30 for every bounced or returned check.
According to the Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.
For a month to month tenancy, the landlord has to notify the tenant of a rent increase at least 30 days in advance. The tenant can then choose to pay the higher rent or move out. If the tenant chooses to leave, he or she should give the landlord a 30 day notice to terminate tenancy in writing.
For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.
The Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:
If the landlord fails to maintain the property, the tenant has a few choices:
1. The tenant can withhold part of the rent until repairs are made if ONE of the following conditions are met:
How much rent the tenant should withhold depends on the condition of the property. Once the landlord has repaired all defects, the tenant has to pay all withheld rent.
2. If ALL three following conditions are met, the tenant can EITHER make emergency repairs and deduct the cost from rent OR terminate the tenancy:
The tenant must keep all receipts for repair-related costs. Massachusetts landlord tenant law allows the tenant to deduct up to four month's (future) rent to cover repair costs.
If the tenant doesn't want to make repairs, he or she can choose to terminate the rental agreement. After terminating the rental agreement, the tenant has to pay all rent owed and move out within a reasonable period of time.
Massachusetts landlord tenant law lists the following as essential services: hot water, heat, light, power, gas, elevator service, telephone service, janitor service and refrigeration service (as far as conditions will allow)
If the landlord doesn't provide any essential service on purpose, he or she can be fined up to $300 or imprisoned up to six months.
In addition, the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages or three month's rent (whichever is more) plus court costs and attorney fees. M.G.L. ch.186 §14
According to Massachusetts landlord tenant law M.G.L. ch.186 §15B.(1)(a), the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:
We recommend that the landlord inform the tenant at least 24 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.
According to the Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:
There are no specific Massachusetts landlord tenant laws on subletting.
We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:
Springfield, Massachusetts MA
Massachusetts landlord tenant law M.G.L. ch.186 §12 requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy. How long in advance you have to give this notice depends on how often rent is paid:
Payment interval is 30 days or less (e.g. week to week, month to month tenancy): You have to give this notice 30 days in advance.
Payment interval is more than 30 days but less than three months: Number of days for giving a notice to quit is same as the payment interval (e.g. You must give a 60 day notice if the rent is paid every 60 days).
Payment interval is more than three months (e.g. year to year tenancy): You have to give this notice three months in advance.
If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:
Tenant or family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking
If the tenant or tenant's family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking within the last 90 days, he or she can terminate the tenancy immediately by giving the landlord a written notice to quit. M.G.L. ch.186 §24.(b)
If the landlord requests for proof of the victim's status, the tenant shall have to submit one of the following documents to the landlord
According to Massachusetts landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:
Tenant did not pay rent
Tenant or occupant carried out illegal activities on property
Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.
If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.
If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a 14 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and inform the tenant that he or she can choose to pay or move out.
If the rent is paid within 14 days, the tenant may stay.
However if the tenant is late in paying rent again within the next 12 months, the landlord can evict the tenant by sending him or her another 14 day notice to quit. In this case, the tenant must move out. M.G.L. ch.186 §12
If the tenant or occupant engaged in illegal activity on the property, the landlord can evict the tenant immediately by sending him or her a written notice to quit. M.G.L. ch.139 §19
Examples of illegal
activities include prostitution, violent threats or acts, illegal gambling, illegal firearms possession, firearms, illegal alcohol consumption or sale, illegal drug consumption, production or sale.
If the landlord or landlord's agent keeps the tenant off the property WITHOUT a court order, the tenant can EITHER
In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for three month's rent or three times actual damages PLUS court costs and attorney fees. M.G.L. ch.186 §15F
There are no specific Massachusetts landlord tenant laws on abandonment of property by the tenant.
We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:
Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law: Massachusetts General Law Chapter 186: Estates for Years and At Will
Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Rights: The Attorney General's Guide to Landlord and Tenant Rights
If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.