Massachusetts Rent Increase Laws

By PropertyClub Team
Dec 23rd 2023
Rents across the nation are quickly rising, leading many states to enact rent control laws to curb the increases. Massachusetts has some of the highest home prices in the country, especially in its main metropolitan area, Boston. So, here is a look at rent control in Massachusetts and what tenants need to know.

hash-markDoes Massachusetts Have Rent Increase Laws?

No, Massachusetts is one of the states that does not have statewide rent control laws in place. In fact, it’s even enacted a ban on rent control for smaller municipalities. Even though Massachusetts does not have rent control laws in place, that doesn’t mean you don’t have rights as a tenant. Federal law prevents landlords from raising rent for discriminatory and retaliatory purposes. Plus, you always have the ability to negotiate and find new housing if you feel the rent increase is unfair and you are not willing to pay it.

hash-markIs There a Rent Increase Limit in Massachusetts?

In the absence of rent control laws, landlords are allowed to charge whatever they see fit for an apartment. So, in Massachusetts, there is no limit to rent increases as long as the landlord provides proper notice and respects any other conditions of the lease.

Rent prices are also subject to the laws of supply and demand. So, the landlord must keep the rent roughly in line with the rest of the market; otherwise, they won’t be able to attract paying tenants. You always have a right to negotiate or find other housing options if you feel the increase is unreasonable. However, the local government will not get involved in dictating how much landlords are able to increase in between terms.

hash-markWhen Can Landlords Raise Rent in Massachusetts?

Landlords are not allowed to increase rent while the lease is in effect. However, they are free to raise the rent at the beginning of any lease term. So, if you have a yearlong lease, they can only raise the rent once per year at the end of the term. But if you have a month-to-month lease or even week-to-week, they can raise it at any point in between terms, as long as they provide proper notice.

hash-markHow Much Notice is Required When Raising Rent in Massachusetts?

Landlords in Massachusetts are required to provide tenants at least 30 days’ notice before increasing rent or the amount of time equal to the frequency of rent payments, whichever is longer.

Most tenants pay monthly, so that typically means 30 days’ notice is the appropriate amount of time. But say you worked out a special arrangement with the landlord to pay every two months or on a quarterly basis. In that case, they’d be required to give you the same amount of notice before raising the rent. But if you pay weekly or biweekly, they’re still required to give you at least 30 days’ notice.

hash-markAre There Any Cities in Massachusetts that Have Rent Control?

Massachusetts enacted a statewide ban on rent control in 1994, which means that individual cities and towns are not permitted to create their own rent control laws. So, no cities in Massachusetts have any rent control legislation in place, including Boston.

Before the ban, several cities in Massachusetts had some version of rent control, such as Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline. But the state law overrides those local laws, and to this day, there are no rent controls in those places. There have been several attempts to repeal the law and allow certain high-cost areas to curb rent prices as needed. But so far, those attempts have been unsuccessful, and rent control remains outlawed in all of Massachusetts.

hash-markMassachusetts Rent Increase Laws Bottom Line

Massachussetts is one of the few states that has no rent increase laws and also bans towns and cities in the state from implementing rent control. Rent control is a controversial topic, and many experts disagree on whether or not it truly benefits the housing market. Some argue that it’s necessary to provide adequate access to housing for the general population, especially in high-cost areas. However, others believe it places unnecessary burdens on landlords and discourages investment that may improve housing stock.

So, some states have statewide rent controls in place, while others allow local governments to enact legislation if they feel it’s necessary. Some states have no laws on the books regarding rent control, and others (including Massachusetts) not only do not have statewide rent control but also have laws preventing smaller municipalities from imposing rent controls on a local level.