The state of Massachusetts has developed a helpful consumer guide outlining tenants’ rights and responsibilities. You can find it here: A good idea for landlords is to read through this guide as it describes the rights of a residential tenant while explaining the duties and responsibilities of the landlord.

Landlord responsibilities

At the beginning of the tenancy the landlord must make sure that the premises is fit for human habitation and that there are no known violations which may endanger or materially impair the health, safety, or well-being of the occupants. The landlord must also supply a fully executed copy of the rental agreement to the tenant within 30 days of their signing.

Throughout the tenancy the landlord must comply with all applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety, and shall make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition. Massachusetts has a State Sanitary Code, which is designed to protect the health, safety, and well-being of tenants. The local Boards of Health enforce the State Sanitary Code, and some of the provisions of the Code apply to water, heat, kitchens, cockroaches and rodents, structural elements, and snow removal, among other topics. A landlord is advised to review the Code in its entirety to remain in compliance with the law.

Responsibilities of tenant

Other than complying with the terms of the rental agreement, the tenant has some specific responsibilities put upon all tenants. Similar to the landlord’s responsibilities to keep the premises in a safe and habitable condition, the tenant also has a role in that same regard. The tenant must:

  • Comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of all municipal, county, and state codes, statutes, ordinances, and regulations.
  • Keep the premises clean, sanitary, and in good condition.
  • Notify the landlord immediately of any defects, maintenance issues, or dangerous conditions.
  • Be responsible for cleaning and routine maintenance.
  • Dispose promptly of all rubbish, garbage, and other waste.
  • Properly use and operate any electrical, gas and plumbing fixtures and keep them as clean and sanitary as their conditions permit.