The Massachusetts State Sanitary Code provides an outline of landlord obligations. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, has listed below some parts of the Sanitary Code, in the hopes that all tenants will become better aware of their entitlements.

  1. Every room must have either windows, skylights, floors, or transoms in the exterior wall or roof that can easily be opened to measure a minimum area of 4% of the floor area of that room; or adequate mechanical ventilation systems.
  2. In larger buildings (10 or more units) there must be an emergency lighting system in the halls and exits.
  3. The landlord must provide and pay for electricity and gas unless the tenant's apartment is individually metered and there is a written rental agreement requiring the tenant to pay.
  4. Electrical service must provide sufficient amperage to meet the reasonable needs of the occupant.
  5. There must be at least 2 exits from each apartment, more if necessary for "safe passage of all people."
  6. There must be locks on all exterior windows and entry doors.
  7. Landlords must maintain all pipes, oil-and gas-burning equipment, and electrical equipment so that it is free from leaks, obstructions and other defenses.
  8. Floors must be free of holes, cracks, loose mortar or other defects.
  9. Doors and windows must be weathertight.
  10. Staircases must be stable with a handrail or banister if the stairs rise 30 inches or higher.
  11. An absentee landlord must (unless an manager/agent lives in the building) keep a sign inside the building giving the name, address, and phone number of the landlord or his/her agent.
  12. Screens are required on all doors and windows that open to the outside.
  13. No lead paint may be used inside apartments.
  14. In buildings with three or more units, the landlord must provide enough watertight garbage cans with tightly fitting covers "to contain the accumulation before the final collection."
  15. All exits shall be safe, operable, and kept free from ice and snow.

To find out more information on the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code, or for any other tenancy questions, please contact our consumer hotline at 617-973-8787 or 888-283-3757.