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Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law

Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law


Being a landlord or a tenant in Massachusetts comes with certain legal obligations and responsibilities. Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law regulates these obligations and responsibilities, and it is important for you to familiarize yourself with these laws to avoid legal disputes. In this article, we will delve deep into the Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law, and explore its provisions in detail.

Chapter 186 – Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law

Chapter 186 is the Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law that governs the relationship between landlords and tenants. It covers several important aspects of tenancy, including security deposits, rent, eviction, and more. Let us examine these aspects in detail.

Security Deposits

The Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law has strict regulations on security deposits that landlords are required to follow. First, a landlord cannot demand a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent. Second, a landlord must place the security deposit into an interest-bearing account within 30 days of receiving it. Third, a landlord must give the tenant a receipt for the security deposit. Fourth, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written statement of any deductions from the security deposit within 30 days of the termination of the tenancy.


Chapter 186 also regulates the amount of rent a landlord can charge a tenant. A landlord cannot charge a tenant rent that is more than the agreed-upon rent stated in the lease agreement. Additionally, a landlord must give a tenant at least 30 days’ notice before raising the rent, and even then, the rent increase must not exceed 5% of the current rent.


Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law provides tenants with certain protections to ensure that they are not wrongfully evicted. Landlords must follow specific procedures to evict a tenant, which includes providing them with a notice to quit, filing a summary process action with the court, and waiting for a court order before forcibly removing the tenant. Tenants also have the right to challenge a landlord’s eviction notice in court.

Health and Safety

Chapter 186 also obligates landlords to provide a safe and habitable living space for their tenants. This includes ensuring that the property is free from lead hazards, providing heat and hot water, and performing necessary repairs to ensure that the property is in a habitable condition.

Fair Housing

Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law includes laws that protect tenants from discrimination based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. A landlord who engages in discriminatory practices can face severe legal consequences.

Changes to Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law

The Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law has undergone several changes in recent years. For instance, in 2019, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a new law, which included provisions designed to protect tenants from eviction, especially those facing eviction due to non-payment of rent. This law provided tenants with new protections, such as an extension of the notice period before the eviction process can begin, additional time to cure non-payment of rent, and the requirement for landlords to provide tenants with a written notice of their rights prior to filing an eviction.

Moreover, in February 2021, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a new law that significantly alters the landscape of Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law. This law, known as the “COVID-19 Housing Stability Act”, includes several new provisions that offer protections to tenants who have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the provisions include a freeze on non-essential evictions until December 31, 2021, and the establishment of a fund to provide financial assistance to tenants facing eviction due to COVID-19-related financial hardships.


As a landlord or a tenant in Massachusetts, it is essential to understand the Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law to avoid legal problems. This article has provided an overview of some of the key aspects of the law, including security deposits, rent, eviction, health and safety, and fair housing. Additionally, we have explored recent changes to the law, including the 2019 eviction protection law and the 2021 COVID-19 Housing Stability Act. By understanding these laws, you can protect yourself from illegal and unfair practices and enjoy your rights and responsibilities as a landlord or tenant in Massachusetts.

The following information will answer all of your pressing questions concerning Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law.

MA Landlord and Tenant Law: Am I Allowed to Break my Lease?

According to Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law, breaking a lease is not a criminal law matter. The basic premise concerning this issue is: if you have a lease rather than a tenancy at will, then you cannot break your lease. According to MA Landlord and Tenant Law, a lease is a type of contract. When you sign a lease, you—and your landlord– are bound by the document’s terms. Therefore, the rent serves as the written record of your agreement to remain in the rental space and pay the specified rent until the contract expires. If you fail to meet these terms, you may still be responsible—according to MA Landlord and Tenant Law– for rent payments until the end of the lease.

All that said, Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law obligates all landlords to make reasonable efforts to rent the space to someone else and, thus, reduce or eliminate your liability for the rent owed for the remaining term of the contract.

Can I take My Security Deposit Back if I foreclose on the Unit?

Even if you foreclose on the unit, Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law provide you with a few options to secure your security deposit. MA Landlord and Tenant Law proclaims that if the bank takes possession of your unit, it cannot attempt to collect your last month’s rent or the security deposit. Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law states that your landlord is required to transfer your security deposit to the bank that is protected from the individual’s creditors. If your landlord—for some reason—claims that your deposit was lost to his/her creditors, you are allowed—according to MA Landlord and Tenant Law—to sue for the deposit plus triple the damages. Also, if your landlord files for bankruptcy protection, you—according to Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law—will not be able to sue him/her until you secure permission from the bankruptcy court. In this situation, you will need to hire an attorney to help you.

Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law states that as long as the landlord has followed several legal requirements for holding, taking and using a security deposit, the state allows him/her to use the tenant’s security deposit for any of the following: 1.) MA landlord tenant laws states that any unpaid rent not lawfully withheld; 2.) MA landlord tenant laws states that any unpaid rises in real estate taxes; and 3.) MA landlord tenant laws states that any amount necessary to repaid damages to the apartment caused by the tenant. According to Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law, landlords are given thirty days from the termination of the rental agreement or from the day the tenant vacates the tenant to return the deposit or any remaining balance along with a list of damages.

Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law requires your landlord to return the security deposit within 30 days after you leave the rental unit. Typically, if you caused damage (beyond normal wear and tear) to the space your landlord—according to MA Landlord and Tenant Law—is allowed to use a portion of the security deposit to pay for repairs. However, if your landlord does not give you a ‘statement of condition’ at the beginning of the tenancy, it is not possible, according to MA landlord and tenant law– for the landlord to use the deposit for repairs. Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law states that the landlord must provide you with a detailed list of the repairs and the costs associated with each; this list must be given to the renter within 30 days after the move out. The statement must be signed under penalties of perjury. If the landlord does not provide you with this information, or if he/she refuses to return the deposit for whatever reason, you are required—under MA landlord and tenant law–to sue the landlord to get the deposit back. Although this sounds insufferable, Massachusetts’ housing courts are typically friendly to plaintiffs.

MA Landlord and Tenant Law: Can the Landlord Enter my Apartment?

According to Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law, a landlord and his/her agent may enter the rental space for several reasons, including: make repairs, inspect the space or to show the rental space to prospective renters. This portion of MA Landlord and Tenant Law; however, requires landlords to provide the renter with reasonable notice (24 to 48 hours) and to enter only at reasonable hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

MA Landlord and Tenant Laws: Rights after Foreclosure

According to Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law, foreclosure does not automatically terminate your tenancy. Regardless of what the new owner or the bank tells you, you are not required—based on Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law—to leave your apartment just because your landlord lost the property to foreclosure. If you are a formal tenant (tenant with a lease, tenant with a housing subsidy or tenant at will), the tenancy will continue after foreclosure. Subsidized tenancies and tenancies at will continue under the same terms as with their old landlord. In this situation, all leases are converted into tenancies at will, with the company or person purchasing the property at the foreclosure auction serving as the new landlord and owner.

As a tenant, you are still responsible for paying the rent. Until the sale of the apartment, you should continue to pay rent to your old landlord.

Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law: Rent Increases

If you hold a lease for a period of time, your landlord—under Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law—is not allowed to raise the rent until the lease ends. With tenancies-at-will; however, you and your landlord agree that you will remain a tenant and pay specified rent until one of you decides you wish to change the terms of the lease. In this formation, either you or the landlord will only provide notice of the intended change.

If you are living under a tenancy-at-will lease (month to month lease), your landlord is required to provide notice of his/her intent to end your current tenancy and begin a new one with a higher rent at least 30 days or one month prior to the day your next rent payment is due—whichever period is longer. In most other rental formations, the landlord’s ability to raise rent is limited by the market and what renters are able or willing to pay.

Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law: Can I refuse to give my landlord permission to enter my rental space?

MA landlord and tenant laws state that with at least one day’s notice, you are required to allow your landlord entry to: make repairs; inspect the apartment; show the apartment to prospective realtors, buyers or tenants; inspect the rental space for damages within the last month of your tenancy

Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Law: Am I Allowed to withhold rent if there is a problem with the rental space and I have to pay for repair costs?

Yes, you are allowed to withhold rent; however, it may be done only when specific conditions apply. You may withhold rent from your landlord if the Board of Health views certain conditions within your space as being unsafe or hazardous to the occupant’s health. In this situation, rent may be withheld if the landlord receives written notice of these violations and if he/she failed to repair the space in a timely manner. No matter the circumstance, you may only deduct a total of 4 months’ rent. Before paying for repairs, you should first speak with the landlord, and in more severe cases, a legal specialist.