Massachusetts Rental Laws - An Overview of Landlord Tenant Rights in Plymouth
A landlord-tenant rental agreement in the state of Massachusetts can be established either orally or through a written agreement. The statewide landlord-tenant law is contained in Chapter 186 of the Massachusetts laws.
When renting out a property in Massachusetts, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with this law in order to avoid potential issues with your tenant. The following is a basic overview of the Massachusetts landlord-tenant law.
Required Landlord Disclosures in Massachusetts
Landlords have a responsibility to make certain disclosures known to their residents before they can allow them to move in. The tenant disclosures vary from state to state. The following are the required disclosures under the Massachusetts landlord-tenant law.
Disclosure on lead-based paint. This is a disclosure that all landlords in all of the 50 U.S. states must make if they own rentals built prior to 1978. It requires landlords to let residents know about the use of any lead based paint on the premises.
Disclosure on security deposit holdings. This applies to all landlords that charge a security deposit. You must disclose to your tenant information regarding the manner in which you’re going to hold your tenant’s deposit. Include this in your rental agreement.
Disclosure on the move-in checklist. This also applies to a Massachusetts landlord who charges a security deposit. It requires that you provide your tenant with an inventory of the property’s move-in condition in the form of a checklist.
- Disclosure on authorized agents. You must provide the tenant with the contact information of the individual with the responsibility of managing the property.
There are consequences for failing to provide these disclosures to your tenant. For example, they can sue you for any damages that result from lack of knowledge of any of this relevant info. Be sure to include these disclosures in your rental agreement.
Tenants’ Rights & Responsibilities in Massachusetts
Residents have the following rights in the state of Massachusetts. The right to:
- Live in a habitable dwelling.
- Live in peace and quiet.
- Have repairs made within a reasonable period of time.
- Be provided the aforementioned disclosures.
- Be treated in accordance with the provision of the Fair Housing Act.
- Continue living on the premises until the landlord has followed the proper eviction process to remove them.
- Have their security deposit cost returned on time after moving out.
- Terminate their lease legally, without penalty in certain situations, such as if they are a domestic violence victim.
- Be provided a 30 days’ notice prior to a rent payment increase.
- Be provided a reasonable advance notice by a landlord looking to enter their rented premises.
- Break the lease if the landlord fails to respect their privacy.
- Withhold rent if the landlord does not maintain a habitable environment under Massachusetts state law.
- On the other hand, the following is a list of the responsibilities residents in Massachusetts have.
- Ensure the property stays in a clean and habitable condition throughout the tenancy.
- Keep fixtures clean and sanitary.
- Pay the required deposit.
- Take care of small repairs and maintenance.
- Not to disturb the peace and quiet of neighbors or other tenants during the tenancy.
- Pay rent on time, every time throughout the tenancy.
- Notify the landlord when planning to be away for an extended period of time.
- Notify the landlord when looking to move out.
- Abide by all terms of the lease agreement.
- Allow landlord entry as long as the reason and timing is reasonable.
Landlords’ Rights & Responsibilities in Massachusetts
You have the following rights under the statewide tenancy law (Massachusetts Legislature Ch. 186). The right to:
- Collect rent payments, and enforce a fee if the payment is late.
- Ask for security deposits prior to allowing a tenant to move in.
- Provide a unit that meets basic habitability codes for health and safety.
- Enter the rented unit to perform certain responsibilities, such as to inspect the unit for damage.
- Evict a tenant for violating the terms of the lease or rental agreement.
- Evict a tenant for unpaid rent.
- Choose the price of the month's rent.
- Charge late fees.
- Deduct cost of damanges from deposit of all parties liable.
- Charge the tenant a maximum of $30 for any bounced checks.
- The responsibilities for Massachusetts landlords are as follows.
- Abide by all terms of the lease agreement under Massachusetts law.
- Abide by the Massachusetts security deposit law.
- Evict tenants through a judicial eviction process.
- Treat all tenants fairly in accordance with the Fair Housing Act.
- Notify tenants 30 days prior to the date of raising the price of rent.
- Ensure the property remains habitable by responding to maintenance requests on time.
Overview of the Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Laws
1. Landlord Entry
You must obtain permission from your tenant before accessing their rented premises. You must do this by notifying them in advance with a written notice about your intention to enter their rented premises.
The following are the only reasons to enter your tenant’s dwelling unit.
- In emergency situations.
- In the event the property is abandoned.
- With a court order.
- To make repairs or alterations.
- To inspect the unit.
- When showing the unit to prospective tenants, lenders, or buyers.
2. Housing Discrimination
The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against their tenants on the basis of certain protected classes. These protections exist at both the federal and state level.
The protected classes in Massachusetts are: race, color, religion, familial status, national origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation, source of income, gender identity, age, genetic information, military status, and marital status.
3. Early Termination
Tenants can terminate their Massachusetts lease agreement in very limited situations in the state of Massachusetts. They can do so in only four scenarios. That is:
- If the lease allows it through an early termination clause.
- When starting an active military career.
- If they are a victim of domestic violence.
- If they are harassed by their landlord.
4. Tenant Evictions
As a landlord in Massachusetts, you are able to evict your tenant in certain situations. The situations are as follows.
- If a tenant stops paying rent.
- In the event of a lease violation.
- If a tenant fails to move out after their lease expires.
- When a tenant performs an illegal act.
- Each of these reasons has a specific eviction process that you must abide by.
Get in touch to learn how we can help you achieve stress-free property management in Plymouth and the surrounding areas. Howzer Property Management can take on the responsibility of understanding and abiding to the legal aspects of property management.
Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Also, laws change and this information may not be updated at the time you read it. If you have any questions on the Massachusetts landlord-tenant laws, or any other aspect of rental management, Howzer Property Management has you covered!