Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Laws
This part of the site is where we discuss current Landlord Tenant laws and regulations for Massachusetts as they stand today. This is a guide for DIY landlords. Remember to read the laws thoroughly as to avoid legal disputes, fines, and violations.
Laws by Topic
Landlording is a highly regulated business. Here are the major areas of Massachusetts landlord tenant law:
- Tenant Screening
- Rental Agreements
- Security Deposit Law
- Late fees
- Rental forms
- Rent control
- Special rules for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, or stalking (Chapter 186 Sections 23 – 29)
- Short term rentals
- Tax Reform 2018
- Full text of Trump Republican tax form passed December 22, 2017.
- Related Pages:
Here at MassLandlords.net we’re interested in teaching and advocating appropriate changes to the law. Unlike all the tenant-facing sites out there, this site is written for landlords and policy makers.
So much of what’s written online is written from a tenant’s perspective. It also behooves you to read through MassLegalHelp.org, in particular, their tactics page. It’s comprehensive, and it’s a bit like reading the other team’s playbook.
Laws by Chapter and Verse
The legislature works by drafting “bills”. When passed they are referred to as “acts” of the legislature. Acts can create “statutes” or can delegate responsibility to create “regulations”. The “statutes” are also known as the “Massachusetts General Laws” (MGL). The “regulations” created by government agencies are the Code of Massachusetts Regulation (CMR). Regulations and statutes have equal power and enforceability, although the wording of regulations was never voted on.
- MGL Chapter 40P bans rent control.
- MGL Chapter 62, Section 6e establishes tax credits for lead paint abatement or interim control.
- MGL Chapter 93 Section 49 prevents landlords from publishing or threatening to publish facts about a tenant’s payment history.
- MGL Chapter 93 Sections 50 through 68 are the Massachusetts Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- MGL Chapter 93H creates regulation on the protection of consumer information, see also 201 CMR 17.
- MGL Chapter 111, Section 197 is the lead law (see also 105 CMR 460).
- MGL Chapter 142A Section 2 defines what should be in a home improvement contract. (See the rest of Chapter 142A if you are a home improvement contractor).
- MGL Chapter 143 Section 3S requires absentee landlords to post their name and contact information in view of the public and/or residents.
- MGL Chapter 151B Section 4 defines Massachusetts discrimination (remember separate federal law also applies).
- Section 5 defines maximum discrimination fines.
- MGL Chapter 175 Section 99 requires landlords of multifamilies to disclose part of their insurance policy.
- MGL Chapter 186 regulates late fees, eviction notices, security deposits, last month’s rent, and the majority of landlord-tenant behavior.
- MGL Chapter 239 regulates rent withholding, eviction move-out’s, and treatment of victims of domestic violence.
- MGL Chapter 272, Section 99 prohibits audio recording via security cameras or other non-obvious means.
- 105 CMR 410 is the state sanitary code.
- 105 CMR 460 regulates lead and lead hazards (see also MGL Chapter 111, Section 197).
- 201 CMR 17 standards for the protection of personal information of residents of the Commonwealth.
- 254 CMR 7.00 defines part of the reason why realtors can charge an application fee (but landlords cannot), and see the rest of the statutes for more of why landlords cannot.
- 780 CMR state building code and inspection frequencies.
- 940 CMR 3 Attorney General’s list of unfair and deceptive practices (try also 940 CMR 3).
The following may be interesting reading:
- Quiet Enjoyment: landlord found against for not mediating conflict between two tenants Blackett v. Olanoff, 371 Mass. 714 (1977).
- Unauthorized practice of law: Individual property manager sanctioned but not charged with 93A violation for filing a summons and complaint where he was neither the owner nor the lessor. 479 Mass. 542 (2018), 479 Mass. 1027 (2018), aka Hatcher Decision
The content and materials provided on this site are meant to be for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on this site is meant to act as legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Much of the content is provided by third-parties and is not vetted by MassLandlords.net. We advise you contact an attorney.
Think of this section as “one landlord talking to another.”
The best thing you can do is to join MassLandlords.net as a digital member or join one of your local organizations. If you want to contact your state reps or senators individually, you can find their contact information here (search by your zip code at right).