Your lease or rental agreement should spell out your landlord’s key rent rules, including:
- the amount of rent (there are no limits to how much a landlord can charge in Massachusetts since there are no communities with rent control in the state)
- where rent is due (such as by mail to the landlord’s business address)
- when rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend date or holiday)
- how rent should be paid (usually check, money order, cash, and/or credit card)
- the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent
- the amount of any extra fee if your rent check bounces, and
- the consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.
State laws in Massachusetts cover several of these rent-related issues, including limits on late fees, the amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase rent under a month-to-month tenancy, and how much time a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction.
Massachusetts Rules on Late Fees
Rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease or rental agreement (usually the first of the month). If you don’t pay rent when it is due, the landlord may begin charging you a late fee. Under Massachusetts law, late fees, including interest on late rent, may not be imposed until the rent is 30 days late.
Amount of Notice Massachusetts Landlords Must Give Tenants to Increase Rent
Massachusetts landlords must give tenants 30 days’ notice (or the interval between days of payment) to increase rent or change another term of a month-to-month rental agreement. If you have a long-term lease, however, landlords may not increase the rent until the lease ends and a new tenancy begins—unless the lease itself provides for an increase.
Rent Increases as Discrimination
Massachusetts landlords may not raise the rent in a discriminatory manner—for example, only for members of a certain race.
Massachusetts State Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent
States set specific rules and procedures for ending a tenancy when a tenant has not paid the rent. Massachusetts landlords must give tenants at least fourteen days’ notice (if the issue is not addressed in the lease or rental agreement) in which to pay the rent or move. If the tenant does neither, the landlord can file for eviction. Landlords can file for eviction of holdover tenants immediately.
Massachusetts Guide to Tenant Rights
For an overview of tenant rights when it comes to paying rent under Massachusetts landlord-tenant law, see http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/consumer/landlordtenant073007.pdf.
Massachusetts State Laws on Late Fees, Termination for Nonpayment of Rent, and Other Rent-Related Issues
For state rent rules and procedures on issues such as raising rent, see Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 186, §§ 12 and 15B(1)(c) and ch. 239 § 8A.
For Massachusetts laws on termination for nonpayment of rent, see Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch, 186, §§ 11 to 12.
See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.