Massachusetts rental laws

Massachusetts has it all from the beautiful scenery in the cape to the hustle ‘n bustle of Boston. The opportunities to invest in real estate are vast whether considering a vacation home or student housing. However, it is important for every Massachusetts’s investor to be well versed in the ins and out of the business of managing property. Below is a summary of some of the various landlord tenant laws.


At a Glance:

Late Fees: Even though there is no state maximum amount specified in the statutes, a landlord may not even charge or assess a late fee within 30 days of when rent is due.

Security Deposit:  No more than one-month’s rent is permitted.

Returned Payment Fee Limit: $30 (more information available at

Notice to Enter: Minimum notice not expressly stated in Massachusetts law. Give advance written notice when not an emergency.


Late Fee/Returned Check Fee:

Massachusetts possesses a pretty restrictive late fee restriction. Although, nothing is stated regarding the amount that may be charged, a late fee cannot even be assessed in any way, shape or form until 30 days have passed since the rent due date. With that being said, a landlord may begin the procedures to evict as soon as the renter is late on rent.

If the tenant has a payment returned for insufficient funds, as long as it is stated in the lease, the landlord may assess an amount no more than $30.


Security Deposits:

Massachusetts has very particular procedures required in order to collect and how to return a security deposit. First, the amount may not exceed more than what is equal to one-month rent. Second, within 10 days of collecting a security deposit, a statement of condition must be completed and given to the tenant. The Massachusetts’s Statement of Condition must meet precise criteria which is found in Mass Gen Law, Part II, Title I, Chapter 186, Section 15B.

When tenants move out, landlords must return the security deposit within 30 days after the tenant vacates. If there are any deductions made, they must be accounted for in detail on a written inventory sent to the tenant.

Security deposit requirements can be tricky. Breaching any of Massachusetts’ security deposit laws can put the landlord in hot water with fines and more. When in doubt, ask an attorney or experienced property manager for guidance.



Like many states, Massachusetts has an implied set of responsibilities regarding upkeep of the residential properties. Massachusetts also outlines specific requirements in a lengthy list of tenant rights; see pages 10 and 11 for specific maintenance responsibilities among landlords. For instance, there must be an available heat source from mid-September through mid-June. Additionally, the plumbing must be in good and working order. Be sure and know your responsibilities as a Massachusetts landlord to avoid conflicts and court dates.


Right of Entry:

Although the law is silent on how much notice is needed before a landlord may enter the rental unit; it is not silent on the reasons for entering. A landlord may request entrance to inspect, repair, maintain, or show the property to a perspective tenant, buyer or lender or lender’s agents.


Notice to End Lease: 

With a month to month tenancy, the amount of notice would be the same as the amount of time between payments. So if the rent is paid every 30 days, then 30 days’ advance notice to end the lease would be needed. A lease that does not specify and ending date but is longer in duration than three months would require three months’ notification unless duration is less than three months, whereas, notice would then be the same as a month to month tenancy. However, if there is a written lease with a explicit end date listed, then the tenancy would end on that day. No notice would be needed.



If your tenant has not paid rent and you want to evict, 14 day notice to quit must be sent. If the tenant fails to make payment, the landlord may then file in court for forced eviction.


Questions? Ask a Massachusetts Attorney!

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