Massachusetts Rent Increase Laws: What Tenants Should Know

by | Jan 26, 2024 | Landlord Tenant Law |

The rapid increase in rents across the United States has recently become a pressing issue. Many states are turning to rent control laws as a solution to manage these soaring costs.

However, the situation in Massachusetts, particularly in its bustling metropolitan area, Boston, stands out due to the state’s unique approach to rent control.

Massachusetts’ Stance on Rent Control
Massachusetts currently does not have any statewide rent control laws. This means that, unlike some other states, there is no legal cap on how much landlords can increase rent. In addition to this, Massachusetts has a ban in place that prevents smaller municipalities from implementing their own rent control measures. This might come as a surprise, especially considering the high home prices in areas like Boston.

Tenant Rights in the Absence of Rent Control
It’s important to note that the lack of rent control laws doesn’t leave tenants completely without rights. Federal laws protect tenants from discriminatory or retaliatory rent increases. This means that while landlords have the freedom to set rents, they cannot do so for unjust reasons. Moreover, tenants always have the option to negotiate rent increases or seek alternative housing if they find the new terms unacceptable.

How Rent Increases Work in Massachusetts
Without rent control laws, landlords in Massachusetts can set rent prices as they see fit, provided they adhere to the lease terms and give proper notice.

Validating Rent Increases: For a rent increase to be legally binding, two key conditions must be met:
• Proper Notice: The landlord must provide the tenant with adequate notice about the rent increase. This notice period allows tenants to decide whether they wish to continue the lease under the new terms.
Tenant Agreement: The tenant must agree to the new rent amount, typically demonstrated by signing a new lease or an amendment to the existing lease that reflects the new rent.
The market’s supply and demand dynamics also play a role in determining rent prices. Landlords need to keep their prices competitive to attract and retain tenants.

Notice Requirements for Rent Increases
In Massachusetts, landlords must provide at least 30 days’ notice before increasing rent or a notice period equal to the frequency of rent payments, whichever is longer. For most tenants who pay monthly, this means a 30-day notice. However, if you have an arrangement to pay rent less frequently, the notice period adjusts accordingly.
The Statewide Ban on Rent Control.

Since 1994, Massachusetts has had a statewide ban on rent control. This ban means that no city or town within the state, including Boston, can implement its own rent control laws. This situation remains unchanged despite various attempts to repeal the law and allow high-cost areas to manage rent prices.

The Bottom Line on Rent Increase Laws in Massachusetts
Massachusetts stands out as one of the few states with no rent increase laws and a ban on local rent control. The debate over rent control is complex, with arguments on both sides. Proponents see it as essential for ensuring affordable housing, especially in expensive areas. Critics, however, argue that it can negatively impact landlords and discourage investment in housing improvements.

Should you be experiencing an eviction or housing discrimination based on your race, gender, national origin, disability, military status sexual orientation, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour confidential consultation.


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