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Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Law

A summary of Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Laws based on state law statutes as they apply to residential lease agreements executed between landlords and tenants.

Required Disclosures (by Landlords)

Move-in Checklist: Landlord must provide tenant with move-in checklist if landlord collects a security deposit. (186 Mass. Gen. Laws § 15B(2)(c))

Insurance: Upon tenant’s request and within 15 days, landlord must furnish the name of the company insuring the property against loss or damage by fire and the amount of insurance provided by each such company and the name of any person who would receive payment for a loss covered by such insurance. (186 Mass. Gen. Laws § 21)

Security Deposit: At the time of receiving a security deposit, landlord must furnish a receipt indicating the amount of the deposit; the name of the person receiving it, and, if received by a property manager, the name of the lessor for whom the security deposit is received; the date on which it is received; and a description of the premises leased or rented. The receipt must be signed by the person receiving the security deposit. Within 30 days of receiving security deposit, landlord must disclose the name and location of the bank in which the security deposit has been deposited, and the amount and account number of the deposit. (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 186, § 15B)

Security Deposit Limit

A maximum equivalent of one month’s rent may be charged for a security deposit.

Deadline for Returning Security Deposit

After the tenant moves out and returns the keys, the deposit must be returned within 30 days. Tenants have the right to receive 5% interest on the security deposit per year, or the amount of interest paid by the bank (the bank must be in Massachusetts). Interest should be paid yearly and within 30 days of the termination date. Interest does not accrue for the last month rent was paid.

Small Claims Lawsuits

There is no limit for filing a lawsuit in small claims court regarding property damage caused by a motor vehicle. All other disputes filed in small claims court cannot exceed $7,000 in damages.

Late Fees

A late fee, including interest on past due rent, cannot be charged until 30 days after the due date. See below under Eviction and Termination for earlier remedies.

Increasing Rent

A minimum of 30 days advance notice (or the interval between days of payment) is required to change a month-to-month tenancy. A longer term lease must spell out any details concerning rent and increases (if any). Otherwise, no increase can occur without the written consent of both parties.

Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent

A landlord must be notified in writing of any problem affecting the habitability of the unit or health and safety of the tenant. If the landlord fails to start in 5 days (or contract the repairs) and finish within 14 days, the tenant may either withhold rent until the repairs have been made or hire a professional to fix them and deduct up to 4 month’s rents to pay for the repairs. The repairs must be reasonable (receipts will be required).

Termination and Eviction

An unconditional 14 day notice to quit may be served on a tenant in an at will tenancy receiving a second notice to pay rent or quit within 12 months. A 14 day notice to cure or quit may be used on unpaid rent. An immediate notice to quit may be used on any tenant holding over.

Access to Property

No advance notice is required for entry.

Massachusetts Lease Agreement

See Massachusetts Residential Lease.

Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Law Statutes

Massachusetts Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 186, §§ 1 to 29; ch. 186a, §§ 1 to 6.