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 www.mass.gov/ago or by calling the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-8400. They have also put together a tip sheet with more information.