Massachusetts Landlord Responsibilities for Habitability

Massachusetts Landlord Responsibilities for Habitability

Last Updated: May 31, 2024 by Roberto Valenzuela

Massachusetts legally requires landlords to meet certain “habitability” requirements for all rental properties. This means that they’re responsible for providing a property that meets specific health and safety standards and for fixing issues that violate them.

Massachusetts Implied Warranty of Habitability

In Massachusetts, the implied warranty of habitability means that a landlord must provide and maintain a safe and habitable rental property. “Implied” means the requirement applies whether or not the lease agreement specifically says so and even if the lease tries to waive the obligation.

Examples of clear habitability violations include:

  • Exposed electrical wiring
  • A pipe leaking human waste
  • A broken front doorknob that won’t lock

However, the implied warranty of habitability does not guarantee that anything at the property will be pretty, clean, new or issue-free, so it doesn’t cover things like stained carpet or dents in a wall. It only guarantees basic health and safety.

Landlord Responsibilities in Massachusetts

Note: Check local city/county laws and ordinances for additional requirements.

Item Has To Provide? Has To Fix / Replace?
Air Conditioning / Heating Only Heating Only Heating
Hot Water Yes Yes
Kitchen Appliances Usually Only If Provided
Washer and Dryer No Only If Provided
Smoke/CO Detectors Yes Yes
Window Coverings Yes Yes
Light Fixtures Yes Yes
Landscaping No No
Garbage Removal Usually Usually
Garbage Pickup Usually Usually
Mold N/A Yes
Pest Control Some N/A
Pest Infestations N/A Yes
Water Leaks N/A Yes
Clogs N/A Not Usually

Landlord Responsibilities for Heating and Air Conditioning in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords must provide heating during winter for rental properties. They don’t have to provide air conditioning.

Are Landlords Required to Provide Air Filter Replacements in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts landlords don’t have to replace things like air filters, unless heating equipment won’t work otherwise.

Landlord Responsibilities for Plumbing in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords must keep plumbing in condition that safely supplies hot and cold water to the property, providing proper sewage and drainage connections for required fixtures.

Are Landlords Required To Provide Hot Water in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts landlords must provide and maintain running heated water for rental properties.

Are Landlords Responsible for Fixing Clogged Drains and Toilets in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts landlords must fix clogs the renter didn’t cause, which keep the plumbing from being in proper working condition.

Are Landlords in Massachusetts Responsible for Fixing Leaks?

Massachusetts landlords must fix leaks the renter didn’t cause, which keep the plumbing from being in proper working condition. The owner of a property must also remove remaining moisture within 48 hours of a leak or flood ending, or being notified about it (whichever is sooner).

Landlord Responsibilities for Kitchen Appliances in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords have a number of responsibilities regarding kitchen appliances. There’s no requirement for a dishwasher or microwave, but properties must have a kitchen sink. The landlord also has to provide a stove, oven, and refrigerator, or connections for renters to install their own (if they explicitly agree to do so under the terms of a written lease).

Landlord Responsibilities for Electrical Issues in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords are responsible for making sure there are no electrical issues that disable required electric lighting, or which otherwise endanger basic safety or habitability on the rental property.

Are Landlords Responsible for Replacing Light Bulbs in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts landlords are responsible for replacing light bulbs in required fixtures.

Landlord Responsibilities for Garbage Removal in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords must provide and maintain outside garbage containers and removal services, except that renters are responsible for garbage in single-family residences and duplexes only.

Landlord Responsibilities for Landscaping in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords have no specific obligation to provide landscaping or maintain it with actions like cutting grass. They only have to deal with issues like fallen trees if they interfere with the cleanliness of common areas, violate local codes, or create a hazard to habitability.

Landlord Responsibilities Regarding Mold in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords are responsible for most mold issues. A landlord is responsible for keeping a property appropriately mold-proofed, and also for removing excess moisture after a leak or flood. The removal of moisture must occur within 48 hours after the event ends, or the owner receives notice (whichever is sooner).

Landlord Responsibilities Regarding Pests in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords are responsible for fixing pest issues in multi-unit housing, including rats, roaches, mice, bed bugs, and ants. The law puts responsibility for pest control on the occupants when it comes to most single-family units and duplexes. Before any new occupancy, the owner of a property must inspect for pests. Inspection reports must be made available to state officials upon request.

Landlord Responsibilities for Windows and Window Coverings in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords are responsible for providing windows and weatherproof screens and other coverings, and maintaining them in proper condition. In particular, all exterior windows must have screens of at least 16 mesh per square inch, between at least April 1 and October 31 of each year.

Landlord Responsibilities Regarding Safety Devices in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords are responsible for ensuring that required smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are installed at the beginning of a tenancy.

Are Landlords Responsible for Replacing Batteries of Safety Devices in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts landlords must keep safety devices in operable condition, which means they are responsible for replacing batteries as necessary.

Landlord Responsibilities for Doors and Locks in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords are responsible for ensuring reasonably secure locks and keys on the property. The landlord also has to maintain provided doors in good repair.

Landlord Responsibilities for Washers and Dryers in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords are not required to furnish their rental properties with a working washer and dryer. However, if they are provided, the landlord is responsible for fixing them if they stop working properly.

Renter’s Rights for Repairs in Massachusetts

Massachusetts renters have the right to repairs for issues affecting health and safety, except issues they caused themselves. Renters must exercise this right by notifying the landlord of the issue via registered or certified mail. The landlord gets a “reasonable time” after notice to perform repairs (usually within 14 days).

If the issue isn’t fixed, the renter can end the rental agreement, or ask a court to order repairs or compensation. The renter might also repair and deduct, or withhold rent.

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