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Apartment Leasing

The fall is the peak of moving season in the Commonwealth. Whether you are a college student moving into your first apartment or a seasoned renter relocating, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Being a responsible tenant starts before you move into your new rental space.  Inspecting the property’s condition and understanding the documents you’re signing are two of the many items tenants can do to begin building a successful relationship with your landlord.

According to a 2020 American Community Survey census, Massachusetts has almost a 40% rental rate which is the second most renters in New England.  Having a positive rental experience means more than just knowing your rights.  Check out the tips below compiled by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) on how to be a good tenant.

  • Understand your type of tenancy. There are two type of tenants, a tenant under lease and tenant-at-will.  A tenant under lease is characterized by a signed agreement that specifies rental terms—like payment schedule, duration of occupancy, apartment condition, and utilities.  A tenant-at-will, on the other hand, signs no formal lease agreement, and may be bound to items listed in a verbal or written agreement.
  • Follow the agreed upon payment terms. In general, rent is due on the first of each month, unless your lease or rental agreement says otherwise. There is no grace period for late rent in Massachusetts, although landlords cannot charge a late fee until rent is at least 30 days past due.
  • Set up necessary utilities. Tenants are often responsible for setting up utilities, like gas and electric, unless expressly defined in the rental contract. If you’re not sure, ask your landlord, and obtain the answer in writing. In Massachusetts, landlords can charge for water and sewer as long as they are separately metered.
  • Follow the terms of your lease. A lease is a legally binding contract, therefore you must abide by the guidelines set within. The only time a clause cannot be enforced is when it is illegal. In this case, the rest of the lease is still generally enforceable.

In support of this large population of renters in the Commonwealth, and our agency’s mission, OCABR provides resources for both landlords and tenants.  Visit our housing resource webpage and our guide to tenant rights for more information.

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