Massachusetts State Laws Prohibiting Landlord Retaliation

Learn what types of landlord retaliation are illegal in Massachusetts.

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Massachusetts state law (Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 239 § 2A; ch. 186 § 18) prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants.

Tenant Rights Protected Against Landlord Retaliation in Massachusetts

It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant in Massachusetts who has exercised a legal right, including:

  • complaining to the landlord about unsafe or illegal living conditions
  • complaining to a government agency, such as a building or health inspector, about unsafe or illegal living conditions
  • assembling and presenting your views collectively—for example, by joining or organizing a tenant union, or
  • exercising a legal right allowed by your state or local law, such as withholding the rent for an uninhabitable unit.

Types of Retaliation That Are Against State Law

Massachusetts law applies when a retaliatory eviction follows a court case or administrative hearing concerning the tenant’s underlying complaint, membership in a tenant organization, or exercise of a legal right. In this situation, a tenant may claim the benefit of the antiretaliation presumption only if the eviction falls within six months of the final determination of the court case or administrative hearing.

For advice on how to respond to—and prove—retaliation, see the article Landlord Retaliation.

Massachusetts Guide to Tenant Rights

For an overview of tenant rights under Massachusetts landlord-tenant law, and resources for filing complaints, see http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/consumer/landlordtenant073007.pdf.

Massachusetts State and Local Law on Landlord Retaliation

For state law on landlord retaliation, see Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 239 § 2A; ch. 186 § 18.

See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.

Also, check your local housing ordinances, particularly if you are covered by rent control, for any city or county rules that protect tenants from landlord retaliation. To find yours, call your mayor or city manager’s office or check your city or county website.

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