In Massachusetts, the State Sanitary Code (105 CMR 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.

If a landlord does not respond to a tenant's complaints about a sanitary code violation, the tenant may request that a code enforcement officer or the local board of health inspect the apartment. An inspector can then come to the apartment, review the conditions, and order the landlord to fix the problem if deemed necessary. In the event that the landlord still fails to fix the problem, then a tenant may move out, even if there is a lease or rental agreement in place. A tenant may also be able to pay a lower rental rate for what the unit, as it is constituted, is actually worth. Before taking action, a tenant seeking this option should contact a private lawyer or legal services for more information. (M.G.L. c. 111, s. 198; 105 CMR 410)