The Massachusetts residential lease agreement (“rental agreement”) is a binding document used to formalize an agreement between a landlord and tenant to rent real property in exchange for a fee. This contract is governed by the Massachusetts landlord-tenant law and includes terms and conditions outlining the responsibilities of each party.
Massachusetts Lease Disclosures & Addendums
The following disclosures or addendums are either required for some or all residential lease agreements in Massachusetts.
- Landlord’s Name & Address – for all rental units in Massachusetts.
- Security Deposit Holdings – for all rental units holding a security deposit.
- Move-In Checklist – for all rental units charging a security deposit.
- Lead Based Paint Disclosure – for rental units built prior to 1978.
There are also a number of optional disclosures and addendums that help reduce future conflicts and/or legal liability in Massachusetts.
Landlord’s Name & Address
Applicable to all rental units in Massachusetts.
So that future legal notices and demands sent by the tenant can be properly delivered to the landlord, the name and address of either the landlord or the person authorized to act on the landlord’s behalf must be disclosed up-front (commonly done so in the lease agreement) .
Security Deposit Holdings Disclosure
Applicable to all rental units holding a security deposit.
When charging and holding a security deposit, a Massachusetts landlord must disclose the holding information to the tenant in the lease. This includes the sum of the deposit, the location of the funds and the account number .
SECURITY DEPOSIT HOLDINGS DISCLOSURE. The security deposit of $____, highlighted in this lease, can be found at the following location:
Applicable to all rental units in Massachusetts that charge a security deposit.
Massachusetts landlords that intend to charge a security deposit are required to provide an inventory of the rental unit’s condition. This checklist does not necessarily have to be attached to the lease agreement, but it does need to be provided to the tenant within 10 days of the move-in date. The checklist should include any present damage or specific furnishings that are included (such as appliances or furniture) that must be returned in the same state they were upon move-in. Additionally, the checklist is required to have the following notice in legible writing at the top of the document in 12-point, bold-faced text :
This is a statement of the condition of the premises you have leased or rented. You should read it carefully in order to see if it is correct. If it is correct you must sign it. This will show that you agree that the list is correct and complete. If it is not correct, you must attach a separate signed list of any damage which you believe exists in the premises. This statement must be returned to the lessor or his agent within fifteen days after you receive this list or within fifteen days after you move in, whichever is later. If you do not return this list, within the specified time period, a court may later view your failure to return the list as your agreement that the list is complete and correct in any suit which you may bring to recover the security deposit
This example will satisfy the move-in requirements for Massachusetts.
Lead Based Paint Disclosure
Applicable to any rental units built prior to 1978.
It is a federal law in the United States that any home built prior to 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints. This law requires landlords in Massachusetts to:
- Fill out and attach this lead based paint disclosure form to the lease agreement.
- Provide the tenant with an EPA-approved pamphlet about the dangers of lead-based paint.
- Provide additional records or reports about the presence or hazards of any known lead based paint in the unit. For multi-unit buildings with common areas, this includes information from building-wide evaluations.
Optional Disclosures & Addendums (Recommended)
The following lease agreement disclosures and addendums are not required by Massachusetts law in residential lease agreements, but either help reduce future conflicts with tenants or reduce legal liability for landlords.
- Marijuana Use – it is recommended to state where marijuana use is and isn’t allowed on the property so that expectations are clear. Massachusetts law allows landlords to restrict marijuana usage to non-smoking methods only or control where users can smoke so as to not interfere with other tenants.
- Late and Returned Check Fees – it is recommended that landlords disclose in the lease any late fees or returned (bounced) check fees that they intend to charge. Massachusetts does not limit how high these fees can be, but they should be considered reasonable (often no more than 10% of rent) and reflect the actual expenses incurred by the landlord as a result of a late payment. Late fees may also only be charged after 30 days of delinquency .
- Shared Utilities Arrangements – for rental units with shared utilities, it is recommended to disclose the specifics of how they are shared, and how each party’s bill is calculated, so that tenants have a reasonable expectation of what they owe each month.
- Bed Bug Disclosure – for rental units with a history of infestation, it is recommended to establish an understanding of the current status of bed bugs at the property in case of a future infestation and to provide information on the protocol for handling one.
- Asbestos Disclosure – for rental units in buildings built prior to 1981 (which are considered at-risk for asbestos), it is recommended to establish an understanding of any prior knowledge on the existence of asbestos on the property.
- Mold Disclosure – it is recommended to disclose the current mold status of a property in the lease to protect against future liability of mold damages due to tenant negligence during the lease term.