Boston Residential Lease Agreement

Last Updated: May 30, 2024 by Roberto Valenzuela

A residential lease agreement in Boston is a binding document between a landlord and a tenant. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions surrounding the use of a rental property in exchange for payment.

Residential Lease Agreement Requirements in Boston

Boston currently has no city-specific residential lease agreement requirements or disclosures. As such, landlords and tenants in Boston follow Massachusetts’ requirements for lease agreements.

Landlord-Tenant Rights and Regulations in Boston

When it comes to landlord-tenant rights, landlords should be aware of the following:

Senior Security Ordinance

The Senior Security Ordinance of Boston helps improve the safety and security of senior citizens and tenants with disabilities. The Housing Division will inspect homes that have been designed to accommodate these tenants and ensure that proper safety measures have been taken. They also provide the following services:

  • Crime prevention survey response
  • Lights, locks, and alarm system inspections
  • Safety plan development

Breathe Easy at Home Program

Boston’s web-based program, Breath Easy at Home, works to connect medical professionals with housing inspectors. The goal is to improve the living conditions of tenants with asthma or other chronic health conditions. Doctors or nurses may refer their patients for a home inspection if they suspect the patient’s living situation is contributing to their condition. Then, trained inspectors will identify any health triggers in the home, such as:

  • Mold or chronic dampness
  • Leaks
  • Pest infestations
  • Drafty doors and windows
  • Heating issues
  • Poor ventilation
  • Carpet damage

Once the problem has been identified, housing inspectors will work with property owners to resolve the issue. It is important to note that this is not a relocation program, and the purpose is to make sure the tenant’s current home is safe and livable.

Optional Lease Agreement Disclosures and Addendums in Boston

While not mandatory, landlords can add specific disclosures and addendums to their leases. This helps outline the responsibilities of the tenant and can prevent future liability issues.

Crime-Free Addendum

Due to Boston’s high crime rate, landlords may want to include an addendum stating that engaging in criminal activity, including drug-related activity, is prohibited on or near the property.

Mold Addendum

Boston’s climate becomes quite humid during the summers—leading to higher mold risk. Landlords may want to include a mold addendum to prevent future liability issues for mold-related damage.

Pest Control Addendum

Since Boston ranks high on the list of pest-infested cities, it would be wise for landlords to include a pest control addendum. This agreement should highlight the tenants’ responsibilities related to pest prevention—including reporting any signs of pests to management as soon as possible.

Summary of Required Lease Disclosures for the State of Massachusetts

  • Landlord’s Name and Address (required for all leases) – Massachusetts leases must contain the name and contact information of the landlord or authorized agent. This enables smooth communication of any important legal notice. Massachusetts law requires the availability of a contact telephone number. The landlord must either monitor the number every twelve hours, or provide an alternative contact for periods of temporary absence.
  • Notice of Occupants’ Legal Rights and Responsibilities (required for all leases) – Massachusetts landlords must provide tenants with a notice from the Department of Health discussing tenant rights and remedies related to repairs. This notice may be personally delivered, posted next to the mailboxes, or posted inside the premises.
  • Security Deposit Holdings (required for some leases) – Massachusetts landlords collecting a security deposit must disclose the bank and account number holding the deposit. This lets the tenant verify the funds are handled correctly.
  • Security Deposit Receipt (required for some leases) – Massachusetts landlords who have collected a security deposit must provide a receipt of the security deposit. The time limit for this is after receiving the deposit, or within 10 days after the beginning of the tenancy (whichever is later).
  • Move-In Checklist (required for some leases) – Massachusetts landlords must provide a move-in checklist within 10 days of move-in, outlining any existing property damage. The checklist must also have a 12-point, bold faced notice provided by statute, regarding appropriate deductions. The Massachusetts Legal Help Institute also provides move-in forms which may be useful to new tenants.
  • Lead-Based Paint Disclosure (required for some leases) – For any property built before 1978, federal law requires that a Massachusetts residential lease must contain a lead-based paint disclosure with an EPA informational pamphlet, plus notice of any lead hazards on the property.

To learn more about required disclosures in Massachusetts, click here.