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Rent Payment Rights in Massachusetts

By Steve Belakonis

Tenants in Massachusetts are legally protected by a number of regulations and laws. Many of those legal protections cover rent payments and other fees, including:


Prior to the tenant moving in, the landlord can only collect the first and last month's rent, one month's security deposit, and purchase and installation costs for a lock and key. It's illegal for a landlord to demand a rent pre-payment amount that exceeds that allowed by law.

Finder's Fee

Only a licensed real estate agent or broker can charge a fee to assist in finding an apartment. The amount, due date, and the purpose of the fee must be disclosed prior to any transaction. There is no set amount -- the price is negotiated and agreed upon between the broker and the client.

Consumer protection regulations require landlords to express the amount of the security deposit in any written rental agreement, along with full disclosure of the rights under the Security Deposit Law. The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of anyone responsible for the care, maintenance, and repair of the property should be documented. The same information is required for the person authorized to receive notices of violations of law and to accept notice of a lawsuit on behalf of the owner.

Rent Increases

Under a lease agreement, rent can only be increased when the lease term expires. At-Will tenants must be notified by letter prior to any increase. Landlords can raise the rent on a rental property at any time.

Late Payment Penalty

Landlords can't charge interest or penalties on back rent until 30 days after the due date. The landlord can, however, proceed with the eviction process immediately, even if the rent is only a day overdue. Reverse penalty clause can't be applied to encourage early payment, meaning the landlord can't offer a discount on the rent if you pay a few weeks early. Landlords attempting to enforce a lease with unlawful provisions do so at the risk of forfeiting the security deposit.

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About The Author

Based in Middleton, MA, Steve is a licensed agent and also part-time...

Phone: (978) 337-0233

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