Like any contract, a lease comes with obligations on both sides. For tenants, this usually comprises of an obligation to pay rent and keep the property in reasonable order. For landlords, obligations are not only limited to what is defined in the contract, but also regulated by Massachusetts law.
The main duties of a landlord are as follows:
- Manage the security deposit, returning it if the tenant is entitled to receive it back
- Disclose the ownership of the property, and only lease properties if they have permission and/or ownership themselves
- Have the unit vacant and ready for the tenant on the move-in date (also referred to as “delivering possession”)
- Maintaining the property so that it is safe and habitable, ensuring it meets all building codes and that things like running water, toilets, garbage receptacles and so on are in working order
- Keeping common areas clean and usable, including outdoor areas like parking lots or doorsteps
- Following all obligations laid out in the lease agreement, as well as any requirements under Massachusetts landlord/tenant law
Failure to meet these obligations on the part of a landlord can result in legal action, so it is important that new landlords fully understand their duties to tenants early on. Having a clear, mutually beneficial contract with tenants is also an important step in ensuring each party’s responsibilities are understood and agreed upon. Whether they are leasing a commercial or residential property, or looking to lease a variety of properties, Massachusetts landlords can benefit from working with a real estate lawyer who understands these and any other obligations under state law.