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Massachusetts Tenant-Landlord Law

by Caroline Cronin

Massachusetts-Tenant-Landlord-Law-Fast-Facts

Security Deposit

  • Security deposit maximum: May not exceed 1 months rent. (MGL c.186 § 15B(1)(b)(iii))
  • Returning security deposit: Must be returned within 30 days after occupancy. (MGL c.186 § 15B(3)(a))
  • Security deposit interest: For a yearly lease, the landlord must pay 5% interest per year. (MGL c.186 § 15B(3)(b))
  • Seperate bank account for deposit: Landlord shall keep security deposit in a seperate interest bearing account within Massachusetts. Deposit shall not be commingled with the assets of the landlord. (MGL c.186 § 15B(3)(a))
  • Itemized list of damages: The landlord must also provide an itemized list of damages to the tenant within 30 days, if they withhold any of the security deposit. This list must be very detailed with invoices, bills, etc. Landlords cannot commingle security deposit funds with other accounts, they must keep them in a separate account (MGL c.186 § 15B(1)(e)).

Rent and Late Fees

  • Rent increase If a landlord chooses to increase the rent on a residential unit, they must give the tenant at least a 30 day notice. * Rent is due: There is no statute for a set day that rent must be due, but it should be outlined and agreed upon in the lease agreement.
  • Grace period: There is a rental grace period of 30 days (MGL c.186 § 15B(1)(c)).
  • Late fees: Charging a late fee is allowed, but not required (MGL c.186 § 15B(1)(c)).

Notices and Entry

  • Termination of month-to-month lease: landlord or tenant must give at least 30 days notice when terminating the lease (MGL c.186 § 12).
  • Termination for non-payment: The landlord must give the tenant a 14 day notice before filing to evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent. (MGL c.186 § 11).
  • Notice of termination of all other leases for non-payment: The tenant has 14 days to remedy or quit, unless this has happened to the tenant within twelve months before.
  • Termination by landlord without notice: Landlords may terminate the lease with no notice if the tenant is involved in illegal activity, such as (but not limited to) prostitution, illegal gambling, or illegal sale of alcohol or drugs. (MGL c.139 § 19).
  • Landlord notice before entering: There is no statute for the notice a landlord must give before entering the unit, but we recommend at least 24 hours.
  • Emergency entrance: allowed without notice.
  • Notifying landlord for repair: Tenants must give the landlord a notice if a repair needs to be made. The landlord then has 14 days to make the repair.
  • Deducting rent: If a repair cannot be made within that time, the tenant can make the repair and deduct rent. The paymeny deducted must not exceed 4 months rent. (MGL c.111 § 127L).

Disclosures

  • Landlord responsibilities:
    • Include water, heat, kitchen appliances, and removal of cockroaches and rodents.
    • From September to June (winter months), landlords must keep the temperature in the units at least 68ºF between 7am and 11pm, and 64º between 11pm and 7am.
    • The kitchen must include a sink, a stove and oven, and the space for a refrigerator.
    • The landlord does not need to provide the refrigerator, however. If one is provided, it is the landlord’s duty to maintain it. (Tenant’s Rights Handbook)
  • Disclosing authorized personnel to tenant: The landlord must disclose the name(s) and address(es) of anyone authorized to manage the property. They must also disclose the amount of the security deposit, and the tenant’s rights (see handbook above).

Eviction Laws

Eviction Step #1: Inform your tenant with an official notice

An official notice is posted to the tenant. Typically, although this varies based State and county, the landlord hands the notice to the tenant in person, or posts the notice to the door if the tenant is not home. You also may need to send a copy via certified mail.

Eviction Step #2: Wait for the tenant to respond

When it is failure to pay rent, the tenant has 14 days to pay you otherwise the eviction notice can be filed with the courts.

When there is another lease violation there is no specific remedy by statute.

Eviction Step #3: File With Court

If the tenant has not paid you within the time period outlined in Step #2, then file with the local courts for the official eviction. Both you and the tenant will receive a specific date for the hearing.

Eviction Step #4: Attend the court date

You or your lawyer will want to attend the court hearing and bring proper documentation of the lease violation with you. You should prepare to bring the following, at a minimum:

  1. Your lease agreement
  2. Evidence of payment failures / history
  3. Proof that you served the tenant (Step #1)
  4. Any communications or other helpful records

Eviction Step #5: Sheriff to remove the tenant

If the tenant does not leave on their own, then you have a right, within a certain amount of time, to request for a sheriff to remove the tenant.

Eviction Step #6: Collecting damages

Most likely, the tenant owes you money for the lease violation. Here are some ways to collect money from the damages:

  1. Garnish wages
  2. File in small claims court
  3. Use a private debt collector

For more information on Massachusetts Landlord Tenant laws please visit their website here.