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Illegal Lease Clauses in Massachusetts

Lease agreements in Massachusetts can't force a tenant to make all their own repairs or eliminate their right to a formal eviction process.

In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to include certain provisions in a rental lease. The law considers these clauses “unfair and deceptive,” and they can’t be enforced in court.1 Ideally, a tenant would be able to identify any illegal clauses before signing the lease and ask the landlord to strike them out. But even if a tenant ends up signing a rental agreement that includes one or more of these terms, they’re invalid—and could even invalidate the entire lease.

According to Massachusetts state law, all of the following clauses are illegal and unenforceable:

  • Holding the tenant responsible for making all repairs, thereby violating the state’s warranty of habitability (although tenants can be held responsible for the cost of repairs caused by their own negligence or damage beyond normal wear and tear)
  • Waiving the tenant’s right to contest a lawsuit brought by the landlord
  • Establishing a late fee for rent payments that goes into effect fewer than 30 days after the due date2
  • Allowing the landlord to enter the unit for reasons other than repairs, inspection, showing the apartment to prospective tenants, confirming that the unit is abandoned, or under a court order3
  • Allowing the landlord to seize or hold the tenant’s personal property or evict the tenant without following the process set out by law
  • Waiving the landlord’s liability for negligent or intentional acts that cause the tenant harm
  • Waiving the tenant’s right to a jury trial or to appeal a court decision

The presence of one or more of these clauses in a lease could potentially invalidate the entire lease—but that would have to be decided in court.

[1] 940 C.M.R. § 3.17

[2] G.L. c. 186, § 15B

[3] G.L. c. 186, § 15B

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.