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Massachusetts Residential Lease Agreement for Rental Properties
Leases are the cornerstone of a successful landlord-tenant relationship, providing a legal framework for both parties to enter a harmonious agreement.
In Massachusetts, residential lease documents—including their structure, nature, and contents—are regulated by Massachusetts landlord tenant laws. For this reason, it’s imperative to understand the intricacies of the law before constructing a lease.
This guide will walk you through the crucial components of a lease agreement Massachusetts considers compliant, ensuring you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions. And to make your journey easier, we’re offering a free Massachusetts lease template for download!
Massachusetts lease agreements are legally binding documents that outline the terms and conditions governing the rental of a residential property within the state. This lease must adhere to Massachusetts’s landlord-tenant laws, providing a clear framework for both landlords and tenants to follow and fostering a secure and transparent rental environment.
The following components should be included in every Massachusetts lease agreement. Note that these components primarily apply to residential leases; a Massachusetts commercial lease agreement will necessarily have different requirements.
This section specifies the lease’s start and end dates, establishing the duration of the rental agreement.
Here, you’ll find details regarding the rent rate, due date, and the status of rent control. In Massachusetts, there are no statewide rent control laws. However, municipalities in Massachusetts may have their own laws regarding the price of rent, so be sure to check that your rates are compliant with any city or county ordinances.
The penalties for missing rent payments should be clearly stated in the lease, as should any exceptions. In Massachusetts, there are no statutory limits on late fees. However, there is a mandatory 30-day grace period, meaning that tenants must be given at least 30 days after the rent due date before any late fees can be applied (MGL 186 § 15B(1c)). All Massachusetts leases must explicitly state the amount of any late fees so that tenants know exactly what will happen if they are late on rent.
This section of the lease includes details about the security deposit, including its amount, where it will be stored, and how/when it will be returned.
Massachusetts has several laws that regulate security deposits. The maximum or limit for security deposits in Massachusetts is one month’s rent (MGL 186 § 15B(b(iii))). Additionally, security deposits must be stored in a separate, interest-bearing account, where they must accrue interest at 5% per year (interest must be paid to the tenant at the end of the term) (MGL 186 § 15B(3b)).
When a tenancy ends, landlords in Massachusetts must return security deposits to the tenant (minus any deductions) within 30 days (MGL 186 § 15B(4)). Security deposits are a major part of every lease agreement, so be sure your lease appropriately explains all aspects of your policy within the bounds of the law (including the deposit amount, interest, and return period).
This section encompasses crucial required disclosures, which are information that must be disclosed to the tenant in the lease before they agree to rent the property. Required disclosures must be included in a lease agreement Massachusetts considers compliant, or else disclosed in a separate written notice.
In Massachusetts, the required disclosures are:
- Lead-based paint – Landlords in all 50 states must disclose lead-based paint hazards in rental agreements for most properties built before 1978.
- Security deposit receipt – Massachusetts landlords must provide a receipt for the security deposit within 30 days after collecting it. The receipt must include the amount, the landlord’s name, the date, and a description of the unit.
- Existing damages – Landlords in Massachusetts are required to provide a written statement of the present condition of the unit, including a comprehensive list of existing damages, within 10 days after a new tenancy starts.
- Fire insurance – If the tenant requests a description of the unit’s fire insurance coverage, Massachusetts landlords must provide one within 15 days.
- Shared utilities – If water is charged individually to tenants, the lease must disclose the details of water submetering and the billing arrangement.
Landlord Right to Entry
In Massachusetts, there are no specific laws governing when a landlord can enter a rental property. In general, landlords should try to give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering an occupied unit for a non-emergency reason. The landlord’s right of entry should be stated in the Massachusetts rental agreement, in addition to possible reasons for entry (e.g., showings, inspections, repairs, etc.).
Repairs & Maintenance
The lease outlines how and when tenants should submit maintenance requests and clarifies the process for addressing necessary repairs. Every Massachusetts residential lease agreement should specify which maintenance responsibilities are the landlord’s and which are the tenant’s.
Lease Termination/Renewal Procedures
This section details the procedures for early lease termination and breaking the lease, including eviction processes. Specifically, the lease should clearly state how many days’ notice the tenant needs to provide the landlord to announce their intent to either renew or terminate the lease.
A Massachusetts residential lease agreement should also clearly describe what happens if the tenant breaks the lease. Before filing for eviction in Massachusetts, landlords must send eviction notices—however, the length of the notice can be determined by the landlord. For instance, if the tenant is late on rent past the grace period, the landlord must send a notice of whatever length is specified in the lease (if no length is specified, the default is a 14-day notice to pay or quit).
The landlord’s eviction notice periods should be specified to the tenant so that both parties are clear on what will happen if the tenant fails to uphold the lease agreement.
Any specific community rules or regulations, such as policies on smoking, guests, and pets, are listed in this section. You may also include a Massachusetts sublease agreement if tenants are permitted to sublease their units.
Joint and Severability Clause
This clause is for leases with multiple roommates and explains the legal consequences if one party fails to fulfill their obligations. It ensures that the entire lease isn’t invalidated due to one roommate’s breach.
Both the landlord and tenant will sign the Massachusetts rental agreement either on paper or electronically, ensuring a secure and convenient process.
Massachusetts Lease Agreement Download
To make your leasing journey simpler, we offer a free, downloadable Massachusetts lease agreement. This template is tailored to meet the specific requirements of Massachusetts state law, making it a valuable tool for landlords and tenants.
Understanding the nuances of a Massachusetts rental lease is vital for a smooth and legal tenancy. We hope this guide has provided you with a clear understanding of the components of a Massachusetts lease. To get started on the right foot, download our free Massachusetts lease template and ensure a transparent, lawful, and satisfying rental experience.