Massachusetts law about landlord and tenant

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on landlord and tenant law in general. For more specific landlord-tenant topics, see "Related," below.

Table of Contents

Best bet

Legal tactics, 8th ed., Annette R. Duke, editor, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, 2018 (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
    Gives victims of domestic violence the ability to terminate a rental agreement or get their locks changed.

MGL c. 93, § 114 Psychologically impacted properties
Sellers and brokers do not have to disclose to buyers or tenants the fact that a property is perceived to be tainted by the health of a previous occupant, a murder or suicide, or paranormal phenomena. However, they may not be deceitful in answers to questions about the property.

MGL c. 140 § 22 Lodging house 
Lodging House defined as "a house where lodgings are let to four or more persons not within second degree of kindred to the person conducting it."

MGL c. 175 § 99 Clause 15th A
Every policy which insures multi-unit residential property against loss or damage by fire shall provide additional benefits, by endorsement attached to the policy, up to a limit of seven hundred and fifty dollars, without deductible, for each rental unit to cover the actual costs of relocation of any tenant or lawful occupant displaced by fire or by damage resulting from fire.


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 case law

Karaa v. Yim, 86 Mass. App. Ct. 714 (2014)
Discusses mitigation of damages, stating "who bears the burden at trial regarding the mitigation of damages within the landlord-tenant context is the subject of some uncertainty in Massachusetts." See footnote 10 in the case for an explanation of the uncertainty regarding burden of proof of mitigation of damages, with cites to various sources.

Nutt v. Florio, 75 Mass. App. Ct. 482 (2009)
Liability for bite by tenant's dog. A dog bite victim sued the landlord of the owner of the dog, a pit bull. The court stated that the pit bull is a breed "commonly known to be aggressive." "While the defendants may not be held strictly liable by virtue of Tiny's breed, knowledge of that breed and its propensities may properly be a factor to be considered in determining whether the defendants were negligent under common-law principles."

City of Worcester v. College Hill Properties, LLC, 465 Mass. 134 (2013)
Lodging houses. The Court concluded that MGL c. 140, s. 22 (the lodging house law) "did not apply in circumstances in which four unrelated adults, who were college students, occupied apartments leased from the defendant property owners, where the apartments as occupied were not "lodgings" so as to render the defendants' properties "lodging houses" under the act."

Web sources

Bed bugs


Other topics



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: July 23, 2019