Boston Massachusetts landlord tenant law
Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law

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Finderís Fee:  Only a licensed real estate broker or salesperson can charge you a fee for the purpose of finding an apartment. The amount, due date, and the purpose of the fee must be disclosed to you prior to any transaction. There is no set amount to the fee, as it is a contractual arrangement between the licensed broker or salesperson and you.

Pre-payments:  Before you move in, the landlord can only collect the first and last monthís rent, one monthís security deposit, and the purchase and installation cost for a lock and key. This may imply that a landlord cannot collect a finderís fee for his/her own apartment.


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Right Against Unlawful Discrimination:  Massachusetts law prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, ancestry, military background or service, sex, sexual preference, marital status, blindness, deafness, or the need of a guide dog, except in owner-occupied two family dwellings.  No landlord can refuse to rent you an apartment because you receive a rental subsidy, because the apartment contains lead, or, with some exceptions, because you have children. See more in Massachusetts Tenant Rights on

Before Agreeing to Tenancy (or Signing a Lease):

  • Do not put money down unless you are sure you want the apartment. Although you may be legally entitled to your money up until the landlord formally accepts you as a tenant, that money may be difficult to recover.

  • Calculate the anticipated costs of utilities (i.e., heat, electricity) when determining which apartments you can afford.

  • Know what is expected of you in terms of pre-payments or a finderís fee.

  • Check the apartment to ensure that it is in acceptable condition. Put all agreements for repairs in writing.

  • Evaluate the ease of the contract and the response record of non-resident superintendent to "after hours" emergencies.

  • Talk with prospective neighbors about the competency and reputation of the landlord and/or management company.

Rental Agreements: According to state consumer protection regulations, a landlord must include the following in a written rental agreement:

  • The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the owners and other persons who are responsible for the care, maintenance and repair of the property;

  • The name, address and telephone number of the person authorized to receive notices of violations of law and to accept notice of lawsuit on behalf of the owner;

  • The amount of the security deposit and disclosure of rights under the Security Deposit Law.

The landlord must give you an executed copy of this agreement within 30 days of signing. You and the landlord may agree verbally to the terms of your tenancy. However, to get all terms in writing.


Late Payment Penalty:  A Massachusetts landlord cannot charge interest or a penalty on late rent until 30 days after the due date. However, the landlord can begin the eviction process immediately, even if the rent is only one day overdue. The landlord also cannot use a reverse penalty clause to encourage you to pay early. For example, it is illegal for a landlord to reduce the rent by 10% if the rent is paid within the first five days of the month.

Rent Increases: A rental increase may be any amount the landlord wishes to charge. Rent for a tenant with a lease can be increased only when the lease term expires. Tenants at will may face a rent increase any time, as long as notice is received at least one full rental period, but not less than 30 days, before it becomes effective.

TENANTSí RIGHTS - Massachusetts Tenant Rights Guide on

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