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: tenants' rights in Massachusetts, 8th ed., Annette R. Duke, editor, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, 2018, with current updates (includes forms).

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 Standard form and content of policies or contracts insuring against loss or damage by fire or by fire and lightning - Clause 15th A
An insurance policy for a multi-unit apartment building must provide coverage up to a limit of $750 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.

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 human habitation
Details all the key requirements for housing, including kitchens, bathrooms, electricity, ceiling height, and much more.

  • 105 CMR 410.260 Safe condition: responsibility for clearing walk and stairs
  • 105 CMR 410.420 Habitability requirements for housing - minimum square footage per person
    Is your apartment big enough? Very detailed requirements for the required amount of space per person.

940 CMR 3.17 Landlord-tenant - regulations for consumer protection from unfair or deceptive acts or practices by landlords
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

Forms

Web sources

Bed bugs

Protocols for the prevention and control of bed bugs in multi-unit housing, Mass. Dept. of Public Health, 2017.
Explains legal responsibilities of landlords and tenant in dealing with bed bugs.

Roommates

Roommate limitations in Boston: "5 or more rule", Boston Zoning Code, Article 2, Family.
City of Boston ordinance that prohibits 5 or more unrelated, full-time undergraduate or graduate students from living in one apartment unit, single family home or any other dwelling unit. See definition of "Family".

Other topics

Attorney General's guide to landlord-tenant rights, Mass. Attorney General.
Covers terms of a rental agreement, security deposits and other payments, sanitary code requirements, evictions, and discrimination.

Consumer guide to landlord rights and responsibilities, Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation.
Includes how to find tenants, security deposits, right of entry, evictions, and more.

Housing code checklist, from Legal tactics: representing yourself in an eviction.
"In Massachusetts, the state Sanitary Code is the main law that gives tenants a right to decent housing. The state Sanitary Code sets the minimum requirements for rental housing. The Housing Code Checklist in this 'how-to' will help figure out if your home meets these requirements."

Housing search guide for people with disabilities in Massachusetts, Chapa.org, 2013.
A guide for renters with disabilities in Massachusetts, providing step-by-step assistance for your search.

How to be a landlord in Massachusetts and avoid legal trouble, A. Joseph Ross, J.D., 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, J.D., 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.

MassachusettsLandlords.net, Everything you need to know 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. 

Moving tips for tenants, A. Joseph Ross, J.D., 2020.
Precautions to take when moving, "no matter how friendly you may be with your landlord."

Overview of landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts, Nolo.com.
"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."

Renting in Boston, City of Boston, 2023.
Covers leases and agreements, deposits and fees, insurance, conditions, noise, renters' rights, and more.

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.

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

Contact   for Massachusetts law about landlord and tenant

Last updated: June 6, 2024

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