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If you’ve ever rented a home or apartment, you are probably familiar with the woes of a difficult landlord or tenant. Before beginning the search for a new apartment or renters, make sure you understand Massachusetts landlord and tenant law to ensure a favorable outcome.

Tenancy and Rental Agreements

The terms of tenancy partly determines the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant(s). There are two main types of tenancy:

  1. Tenancy based on a lease – A lease is a written agreement that the tenancy will last for a certain amount of time, usually one year. During the time covered by the lease, monthly rent must stay the same and the landlord cannot end the tenancy early.
  2. Tenancy-at-will – This is anagreement that lasts as long as both parties agree to it. Sometimes there is no written agreement, but 30 days written notice, or one full rental period, must be provided prior to moving out.

According to Massachusetts state law, a landlord must include the following in a rental agreement:

  • The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the owners and 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 a lawsuit on behalf of the owner; and,
  • The amount of the security deposit and disclosure of the rights under the Security Deposit Law.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

Before agreeing to a tenancy or signing a lease, a tenant should know their rights and responsibilities:

  • Do not put any money down until you are absolutely certain you want the apartment.
  • When determining which apartments you can afford, be sure to calculate the anticipated costs of utilities.
  • Know what is expected of you in terms of pre-payments or a finder’s fee.
  • Check the apartment for repairs and ensure that it is in acceptable condition.
  • Talk with neighbors about the competency and reputation of the landlord and/or management company.

Additional Resources

Finding the right apartment or tenant in Massachusetts is not always easy. Take the time to understand your rights as a tenant or landlord to ensure a stable business or living situation!

What are your tips while apartment or house hunting? Share them in the comments below, or tweet us @MassGov.

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