Massachusetts Tenant Rights Laws
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 14, 2019
Whether you rent an apartment in the heart of Boston or a house way out in Pittsfield, it's likely you'll run into landlord-tenant issues at some point. Thankfully, in addition to federal and local law, Massachusetts has an array of laws and regulations designed to protect you as a tenant and to guide the rental relationship in general. Read on to learn more about Massachusetts tenant rights laws.
Tenant Rights: Security Deposits to Building Repairs
Massachusetts rental laws address issues that arise before you even begin a tenancy. For example, it's illegal to discriminate against a potential renter based on race, sexual orientation, religion, military service, or other protected characteristics. And once you do agree to a lease, the landlord may not demand a security deposit amount in excess of one month's rent.
During the course of your tenancy, you are entitled to a unit that is fit for habitation. In Massachusetts, these standards are set according to the State Sanitary Code (105 CMR 410). For example, your landlord must provide heat such that from September 16th to June 14th, the temperature must be at least 68 degrees between 7am and 11pm, and at least 64 degrees during other hours. And if your landlord fails to make certain necessary repairs, you may have those repairs made and deduct the cost from future rent if you first give the landlord 14 days' notice.
Massachusetts Tenant Rights Laws at a Glance
If you think your rights as a tenant have been violated, then you should know about all your legal options. While reading the statutes can be a difficult task in meeting this goal, the following plain language chart detailing Massachusetts tenant rights laws can be an efficient alternative.
Massachusetts General Laws, Part II, Chapter 186:
Massachusetts General Laws, Part III, Chapter 239:
Massachusetts General Laws, Part I, Chapter 111:
Code of Massachusetts Regulations:
Rules Regarding the Amount, Maintenance, and Return of Security Deposits
Allowable Deductions From Security Deposits
A landlord may not raise rent during the lease term (e.g. 6 month or 1 year lease) unless allowed by the lease, but may raise rent upon lease renewal.
A landlord may raise rent during periodic rental agreement (e.g. month-to-month) if notice of one full pay period (but not less than 30 days) is given.
A landlord cannot engage in any discrimination based on:
Ending or Renewing a Tenancy
A landlord must give notice to terminate the tenancy as follows:
Note: A writ of execution for possession is required for an eviction.
A landlord may not retaliate against tenant for exercising tenant rights.
Note: State regulations are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Massachusetts Tenant Rights Laws: Related Resources
- Massachusetts Lease and Rental Agreement Laws
- Massachusetts Tenants' Rights Guide
- Tenant Lease Agreement FAQs
- Tenants' Rights Basics
- U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Housing Discrimination
Discuss Massachusetts Tenant Rights with an Attorney Today
Between the terms of your lease, and federal, state, and local laws, it can be difficult to know exactly what your rights and responsibilities are as a tenant. Whether you're dealing with a payment issue, a rat infestation, or an eviction notice, talking to a skilled legal professional can help you know where you stand. Contact a lawyer familiar with Massachusetts landlord/tenant attorney right away to better understand your Massachusetts tenant rights and how best to move forward.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.