Frequently Asked Questions From Landlords

Q:  How much money can I take from my tenant as a security deposit?

A:  You can't take more than one (1) month's rent.  For example, if the rent is $1,800 per month, you can't take more than $1,800 as a security deposit.  

Q:  How much money can I receive from my tenant upon renting the apartment?

A:  You can find this in the same statute that governs the security deposit but the short answer is first last security and key deposit.  

Q:  How much notice do I have to give my tenant before raising the rent?

A:  Always look to the lease or rental agreement first because not all are the same but after the expiration of a fixed term lease, the general answer is at least one rental period.

Q:  May I charge a late fee if the rent is late?

A:  In Massachusetts, you may charge a late fee after thirty (30) days.

Q:  Do I need a lease to rent my property?

A:   This question is best answered by stating that you should have some form of rental agreement in place before renting the property.  It defines the expectations of the parties and makes things easier if there is ever a dispute that ends up in court.  If you don't have a written agreement, the law will imply one based on how long the tenant has been living in the unit.  The rights of the tenant vary according to that time.

Q:  I want to send my tenant a Notice to Quit.  Does it have to contain specific language?

A:   Absolutely!  Additionally, there's a difference in the language whether you're sending a Notice to Quit for non payment or for another reason.  This alone can be grounds for dismissal.  Be wary of any "one size fits all" Notice to Quit.

Q:  Can I email a Notice to Quit?

A:  The short answer is one should never do this.  The issues that arise with Notices to Quit are 1) what's contained in the notice; and 2) whether the tenant herself received the Notice.   An Execution (the actual document issued by the Court that the landlord can then give to the sheriff) will not issue if the Clerk of the Court decides that the tenant never received the Notice.    

Q:  Can I charge my tenants for water usage?

A:  Yes, subject to many conditions that must be satisfied first. 

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