There are two main kinds of tenancy. The rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant depend partly on the type of tenancy that is created.
Every rental agreement must have certain terms, and is prohibited by law from containing certain other terms.
A landlord may only ask for the following payments up front:
- The first month’s rent
- A security deposit to cover the cost of any damage to the apartment beyond normal wear and tear (which may not exceed the amount of one month’s rent)
- The last month’s rent (the month that will turn out to be the tenant’s last one in the apartment)
- The cost of a new lock and key for the apartment
- The landlord should provide a signed receipt for any payment that is made with cash or a money order. The receipt must include the amount paid and the date the payment was made, and a description of what the payment was for. The receipt should also include the landlord’s name, the tenant’s name, and the name of the person to whom the payment was given. M.G.L. c. 186, § 15B.
In Massachusetts, the State Sanitary Code (105 C.M.R. 410) governs what it means to provide a habitable place in which to live. In general, “habitable” means a place that is comfortable and clean enough for a person to live safely.
Generally, a landlord cannot simply take possession of the rental property, physically remove the tenant or their personal property, or change the locks.