Important Rights to Know as a Massachusetts Tenant

September 1, 2017 – September 1st is the unofficial moving day for much of Boston and the surrounding areas. Students are coming back from summer break and nearly 75% of the area’s leases begin on September 1.  Every person moving into an apartment, whether they are a student or not should know their rights in regards their housing. Here are some important rights to keep in mind as you move into your new apartment this weekend.

  • Read the lease carefully to make sure that you understand the terms you are agreeing to. Do not agree to anything that is not written in the lease.
  • Make sure the lease says who is paying for utilities – Unless you agree in writing to paying for your utilities, it is the responsibility of the landlord to pay for it.
  • Get every promise from your landlord in writing – emails count!
  • Keep a signed copy of your lease – your landlord has 30 days to give you a copy.
  • You have the right to a receipt every time you give your landlord money.
  • If you pay a security deposit, you are entitled to a “statement of condition” that lists any problems with the unit at the time you move in. Even if you do not pay a security deposit, it is still important to take note of any damage at the time of move in so that you are not held responsible later.
  • If there is a problem with the condition of your unit, you should notify your landlord in writing about it. It is their responsibility to maintain and repair the conditions of your unit.
  • If the landlord refuses to make repairs, you have the right to a free inspection by a local health inspector.
  • It is illegal for the landlord to retaliate against you for asking for repairs or for calling health inspectors.

Additional information can be found at or by calling the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-8400. They have also put together a tip sheet with more information.