Massachusetts law about landlord and tenant

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on landlord and tenant law in general.

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Table of Contents

Best bet

Legal tactics, 8th ed., Annette R. Duke, editor, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, 2018, with current updates (includes forms).
Just about the best book written on Massachusetts tenants' rights.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.186 Landlord-tenant law

  • MGL c.186, §§ 23-29 Domestic violence
    Lets victims of domestic violence end a lease or get their locks changed.

MGL c. 93, § 114 Psychologically impacted properties
Sellers and brokers don't have to tell buyers or tenants about a murder or suicide in the house, or about ghosts or other paranormal activity. However, they can't lie if they are asked about it.

MGL c. 140, § 22 Lodging house 
A lodging house or boarding house is a house that rents out individual rooms to 4 or more people.

MGL c. 175, § 99 Clause 15th A
An insurance policy for a multi-unit apartment building must provide coverage up to a limit of $750 for each unit to cover the cost moving costs of any tenant who has to move because of a fire.

See also: Law about adverse possession (sometimes called "squatters' rights").

Massachusetts regulations

105 CMR 410 State sanitary code chapter II: minimum standards of fitness for habitation
Details all the key requirements for the property, including kitchens, bathrooms, electricity, ceiling height, and much more.

105 CMR 410.400 Minimum square footage per person
Is your apartment big enough? Very detailed requirements for space per person.

940 CMR 3.17 Landlord-tenant [unfair and deceptive acts]
Specifies prohibited acts by landlords in the areas of conditions, notices, rental agreements, security deposits, evictions, and more. Subsection (6)(e) outlines when a landlord may enter the tenant's home.

Selected cases


Web sources

Bed bugs


Other topics

  • Attorney General's guide to landlord-tenant rights, Mass. Attorney General, August 2015.
    18-page guide covers terms of a rental agreement, security deposits and other payments, sanitary code requirements, evictions, and discrimination.
  •, Everything you need to be a landlord.
    MassLandlords is the landlord trade association for Massachusetts. We have lease agreements, eviction notices, and every other kind of landlord help you need. Membership is open to anyone who rents property, however large or small, and those who can help landlords, like attorneys and contractors. Each membership supports better landlord-tenant laws. Some information is available whereby membership is not needed. 
  • Renting in Boston, City of Boston, 2022.
    Covers leases and agreements, deposits and fees, insurance, conditions, noise, renters' rights, and more.
  • The brothel myth. Urban legends reference page: college,
    Explains the history of the myth, but suggests that no proof has ever been produced that a law exists anywhere which prohibits more than 4 or 6 unrelated females from living together under a "brothel law." "We routinely hear from students who are convinced their particular university lacks a sorority because of this non-existent law. Their vehemence aside, none have yet produce a copy of the statute they so firmly believe in."
  • How to be a landlord in Massachusetts and avoid legal trouble, A. Joseph Ross, revised May 2020.
    This extensive document covers everything from screening tenants through eviction, including utilities, lead paint, security deposits, domestic violence, and more.
  • How to be a tenant in Massachusetts and avoid getting ripped off, A. Joseph Ross, revised May 2020.
    A lengthy guide that covers all the key issues for a tenant, including security deposits, utilities, lead paint, landlords entering the apartment, and more.
  • Housing code checklist, from Legal Tactics: Tenants' Rights in Massachusetts.
    "In Massachusetts, the state Sanitary Code is the primary source of law that gives tenants a right to decent housing. All rental housing must at least meet the state Sanitary Code."
  • Housing search guide for people with disabilities in Massachusetts,, 2013.
    A guide for renters with disabilities in Massachusetts, providing step-by-step assistance for your search.
  • Landlord rights and responsibilities, Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation.
    Includes how to find tenants, security deposits, right of entry, evictions, and more.
  • A landlord's right to enter,, 2013.
    Explains state law and when a landlord may enter your apartment.
  • Moving tips for tenants, A. Joseph Ross, 2020.
    Precautions to take when moving, "no matter how friendly you may be with your landlord."
  • Overview of landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts,
    "Both landlords and tenants should be able to deal with many legal questions and problems without a lawyer, once they understand the basics of state law. This overview of key landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts will get you started."
  • Tenant rights, Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
    Detailed guide to everything a tenant might want to know, including standards for heat and water, when a landlord may enter, and what to do if things go wrong.
  • Safe and sanitary housing for Massachusetts residents: highlights of chapter II of the state sanitary code, Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Citizen Information Service.
  • The tenant's helper: a handbook for renters, 7th edition, 2018, City of Somerville.
    This 47-page book covers the usual information, like security deposits and evictions, but also includes information on discrimination, roommates, and tenants' rights after the sale of a building. Great resource.

Print sources

Every landlord's guide to finding great tenants by Janet Portman, Nolo, 2020. (eBook available here with library card).

Every landlord's guide to managing property : best practices, from move-in to move-out by Michael Boyer, Nolo, 2021. (eBook available here with library card).

Every landlord's legal guide by Marcia Stewart, Nolo, 2022. (eBook available at link with library card).

Every landlord's tax deduction guide by Stephen Fishman, Nolo, 2023. (eBook available at link with library card).

Every tenant's legal guide by Janet Portman, Nolo, 2021. (eBook available here with library card).

First-time landlord : your guide to renting out a single-family home by Janet Portman, Nolo, 2020. (eBook available here with library card).

Landlord and tenant law : with forms (Mass. practice v.33-33A), West Group, 3rd ed., 2000, with supplements.

Leases & rental agreements by Marcia Stewart, Nolo, 2021. (eBook available here with library card).

Renters' rights by Janet Portman, Nolo, 2021. (eBook available here with library card).

Residential and commercial landlord-tenant practice in Massachusetts, MCLE, 3rd ed., 2016, with supplements, loose-leaf.

Residential landlord-tenant benchbook, Flashner Institute, 3rd ed., 2013.


Last updated: May 22, 2023

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