When accepting a new tenant to one of your properties, there are certain things that you should and must do to protect your rights as a landlord in Massachusetts. Failing to do these can jeopardize your rights to evict or result in hefty court fines. Here are 3 important landlord to-do’s for new tenants.
1 – Present Lead Paint Form
According to Massachusetts state law, a tenant certification and tenant notification form must be presented and signed for properties built before 1978. Two originals must be signed by both landlord and tenant, with each receiving an original for their records. Learn more about the Massachusetts tenant lead law at Mass.gov.
2 – Sign a Property Condition Statement
Property condition statements detail any existing issues with a property. Landlords must give tenants this form within 10 days of move-in. Tenants should be given an opportunity to list additional damages that they uncover, within 15 days. The landlord must respond either agreeing to the revised list or disputing the additional items. Both landlord and tenant agree to a final list of issues. Photos are helpful to include with this document and can avoid misinterpretation in wording. The Property Condition Statement is used once a tenant vacates to determine what, if any, damages were caused by a tenant. The cost to repair damages (excluding normal wear and tear) may be deducted from tenant security deposit.
3 – Establish an Escrow Account
Tenant security deposits and last month’s rent must be placed in a separate interest bearing escrow account at a Massachusetts bank. Within 30 days of receiving the check, a landlord must provide information on the account to the tenant (including bank name, account number, and amount deposited). Every year, the landlord must payout the interest from this account to the tenant. It is critical to keep records of all of this. Failure to properly escrow funds and/or payout interest can result in triple penalties!
Other Important Landlord To-Do’s for New Tenants
If you are new to rental properties, Mass.gov provides a helpful guide on Landlord Responsibilities. Keep in mind that many protections and terms should be outlined in the lease terms between you and your tenants. For assistance with drafting leases and other rental property issues, contact Martino Law Group for assistance. We are happy to assist with all of your legal needs.