Rights and Responsibilities

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While the landowner is the ultimate owner of the property, you also have specific rights as a tenant. It is important to know both your rights and responsibilities as a renter, and your landowner’s rights and responsibilities. Learn more Massachussetts tenant rights and responsibilities below.

Before You Move In

Research your Realtor

Keep in mind only licensed brokers are allowed to charge you a broker’s fee when securing an apartment. Need to make sure the realtor you’re working with has a valid license in the state of Massachusetts? See if their license is valid using this link, a tool managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Research your Apartment, Landowners, or Property Manager

You can research your new apartment or an apartment you are interested in to get a comprehensive background report on the property owner, property, landowners and property managers. 

Tenant’s Rights

You have many rights as a tenant, much of which pertain to making your apartment livable. If the following requirements are not met, you may have the right to withhold a portion of the rent; however, please contact OGA or seek legal advice before doing so.

  • You must be provided with running water, and you can’t be charged for it unless you live in a single-family home or you have a sub-meter for your unit.
  • You must be provided a sink, stove, and oven. Note that a refrigerator is not required, but if one is provided, it must be kept in good working condition.
  • The landowner must keep the apartment rodent- and insect-free.
  • Your landowner (or their agent) may only enter your apartment to inspect the premises, make repairs, show the apartment to prospective tenants, in accordance with a court order, and the landowner must provide you with proper notice.
    • Landowners or their agents may enter without notice only in an emergency.
  • Your landlord cannot terminate tenancy or raise rent in response to you exercising your legal rights. If such actions are taken within six months of you contacting the Board of Health, joining a tenants’ organization, or exercising any other legal rights, those actions can be considered retaliation against you. The landlord will be required to prove otherwise.Tenant Responsibilities
  • Pay your rent – Pay your rent on time or you may be subject to late fees and/or eviction.
  • Follow the terms of the lease – You can be evicted before your lease is up if you do not obey the terms of the lease.
  • Write down and photograph any damages – You are responsible for documenting and providing your landlord with a list of everything that is wrong when you move in. When you move out, if there are damages to the apartment, the landlord has the right to charge for the damages and deduct the cost from your security deposit.
  • Remove garbage and recyclables in a clean and safe manner into the appropriate containers and follow proper garbage collection procedures for your street.
  • Be responsible for your conduct and the conduct of other persons on the property, whether known by you or not.

Landlord Rights & Responsibilities

The landlord also has rights and responsibilities, many of which are protected in the lease. 

  • The right to prompt payment. The landlord should be paid by the day indicated in the lease. There is no grace period in Massachusetts, but a landlord cannot charge a late penalty unless there is a “late payment penalty” clause in the lease and not until it is 30 days late. 
  • The right to have the tenant follow the terms of the tenancy agreement. If the agreement is broken, the landlord has the right to explore lease termination. 
  • The right to increase the rent but must follow the law in doing so. If lease is a tenancyatwill, a tenant must be notified at least a full rental period in advance. If a fixed-term lease, the rent can only be increased after the lease expires, unless the lease states otherwise. 
  • The right to have tenants pay for their own utilities (electricity and gas) and should be stated in the tenancy agreement. 
  • Provide running water and pay for water usage unless sub-meters have been installed or rental is a single-family home. 
  • Provide a sink, stove, and oven. Note that a refrigerator is not required, but if one is provided it must be kept in good working condition. 
  • The right to enter the tenant’s apartment at specific times, with proper notice. A landlord may enter for the following reasons: to show the apartment to prospective tenants, purchasers, lenders or their agents; to make necessary repairs; to inspect within 30 days of the end to the tenancy to assess damages that should be deducted from the security deposit; the apartment appears abandoned; or there is a court order to enter. Landlords or their agents may enter without notice in an emergency. 
  • Keep the apartment rodent- and insect-free. A landlord must pay for rodent/insect removal if there are 2 or more units in the building. 
  • A landlord cannot terminate tenancy or raise rent in response to a tenant exercising their legal rights. If such actions are taken within six months of a tenant contacting the Board of Health, joining a tenants’ organization, or exercising any other legal rights, those actions can be considered retaliation. The landlord will be required to prove otherwise.