The state of Massachusetts has declared several state laws to give both landlords and tenants specific legal right. These regulations and judicial decisions help landlords avoid violating tenant rights. Find out key laws every landlord should know about tenant rights in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Tenant’s Rights, Laws, and Protections
Massachusetts Tenant’s Right to Fair Housing Law
The Fair Housing protects individuals and families from illegal housing discrimination. Whether you’re looking to buy or rent a property in Massachusetts, the Fair Housing Act, or FHA, you’re granted the right to have an equal opportunity. This federal law states that it is illegal to deny someone the sale or rental of housing because of:
- Disability (Physical and Mental)
- Familial Status
- National Origin
- Military Status
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Order of Protection Status
- Unfavorable Discharge From Military Service
If You Are a Victim
MA Tenant’s Right to Security Deposit
Once a tenant has been approved for a rental property, it’s time to collect the security deposit. In Massachusetts, there is a security deposit limit of one month’s rent. Along with the security deposit, Massachusetts allows landlords to collect firth month’s rent, last month’s rent, and payment for the purchase of new locks and keys prior to the move-in date.
How to Store Security Deposit
In Massachusetts, landlords are required to keep security deposits in a separate interest-bearing account and cannot be combined with any other funds. The tenant must be paid the annual interest on the security deposit and may deduct the interest from their rent payment. A written notice is required after receipt of the security deposit.
Massachusetts Tenant’s Right after Landlord Retaliation
Landlord-tenant conflicts are not uncommon. In certain cases, a tenant may take actions within their legal right, such as:
- Making a complaint to a health inspector or building inspector
- Complaining directly to the landlord
- Joining a tenant’s union
- Withholding rent until a violation is fixed
If it is proven in a Massachusetts court that a landlord threatened or took reprisal against a tenant who acted within their legal rights, the tenant may be awarded damages which are equal to one month’s rent. The landlord must be the one to prove that retaliation did not occur.
Landlord Entry in Massachusetts
Landlords should respect a tenant’s privacy and not enter the rental unit without permission. However, there are laws in Massachusetts that allow landlords to enter the property for certain reasons, including
- When a tenant has abandoned the unit
- Court order
- 30 days prior to a tenant’s move out date to inspect the property for damages
If a landlord wants to inspect the unit, make repairs, or show the property to prospective tenants, they must include a separate clause in the lease agreement that states they are allowed to enter for those specific reasons. Although Massachusetts doesn’t require a specified amount of time to notify tenants of entry, most landlords give tenants at least 24 hours.
Massachusetts Housing Rights for Victims of Domestic Violence
Victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and stalking have specific rights and protections under Massachusetts law. These laws are designed to keep victims safe in their current rental property. If a tenant has been a victim of domestic violence, they have the right to terminate the lease agreement without landlord retaliation. The tenant must move out within three months or providing the written notice. The tenant may also request a lock change to their landlord. Massachusetts landlords can legally request proof of the tenant’s domestic violence claim. Proof could come in three different forms, including a copy of a court order of protection, a copy of a police report, or a written statement from a qualified third party.
Choose Keyrenter Property Management in Boston
Understanding Massachusetts landlord-tenant laws are critical to the success of your property. If you need help managing your Boston rental property, Keyrenter Property Management Boston can help. Don’t deal with the stress and frustration that comes with trying to deal with property management alone, partner with a team that will be able to handle the hard work for you!