Tenants Rights and Responsibilities

Tenant Rights

  • Rental Standards All rental units must meet these standards on move-in day . If your apartment does not pass the test, complaints should be reported to BOS: 311, for non-emergency Boston city services. Call 311, download the BOS:311 app, Tweet@BOS311 or Boston.gov/311.
    • Unit clean and sanitary
    • Landlord contact information is posted
    • Smoke alarms are working
    • Carbon monoxide alarms are working
    • Unit is safe
  • If violations occur after you have moved in, it is your responsibility to notify the landlord, giving the landlord a chance to bring the unit into compliance.  Keep records of your calls and all contact with the landlord, and any receipts if money was spent to make repairs. If the landlord does not take action, call the Inspectional Services Department (ISD), 617-635-5322 and request an inspection. Make sure you receive a written report of the violations from the ISD inspector. The ISD has the power to bring the landowner to court if the violations are not corrected.
  • There are also legal actions you can take (such as withholding rent) to get the violations corrected. Contact Rental Housing Center, 617-635-RENT (7368) and legal aid services, listed under Resources, for advice on how to proceed.
  • If you rent an apartment in Boston, the city now requires an inspection before or after a new tenant moves in. Contact the Inspectional Services Department for more information.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office provides a comprehensive summary of Landlord-Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

Tenant Responsibilities

  • Review Massachusetts Consumer Guide Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
  • Pay rent on time
  • Follow terms of the lease.  Only persons named on lease reside in apartment
  • Write down and photograph the damages and take notes as to the condition when you move in.
  • When you move out, if there are damages to the apartment, you are responsible for them and the landlord may charge you.
  • Remove your trash and recyclables in a safe manner into appropriate containers for trash collection
  • Act responsibly and be responsible for the conduct of your guests, and others on the property.
  • Take care of the apartment; do not damage or deface any part of the premises
  • Apartment must be left in similar condition as when you moved in
  • Leave forwarding address for the return of your security deposit

Tenant /Occupant Maintenance Responsibilities

Landlord’s Responsibilities

  • Provide water at no cost to the tenant, unless water for each unit has a separate water meter.
  • Must keep apartment rodent and insect free
  • Landlord’s  Right of Entry allows access into your apartment to inspect premises, make repairs, show apartment to prospective tenants, to inspect within 30 days of the end of tenancy to determine damages or as otherwise permitted by law, or if the apartment seems abandoned, and must provide reasonable notice.
  • Landlord cannot terminate tenancy or raise rent in response to your exercising your legal rights.
  • Maintain door and accessible windows with secure locks
  • Provide two exits per dwelling
  • Provide working smoke  and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Make repairs in a timely manner
  • Keep detailed records of all aspects of tenancy
  • Provide and maintain heating system in good working order
  • Keep common areas clean and orderly;  keep exit areas free from obstructions, including snow.
  • Cannot charge a penalty for late rent payment prior to 30 days overdue but can begin eviction proceedings with a notice to quit.