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940 CMR 3.17 (Attorney General 93A Regulations)

3.17: Landlord-Tenant

 

(1) Conditions and Maintenance of a Dwelling Unit. It shall be an unfair or deceptive act or practice for an owner to:

 

(a) Rent a dwelling unit which, at the inception of the tenancy

 

1. contains a condition which amounts to a violation of law which may endanger or materially impair the health, safety, or well-being of the occupant; or

 

2. is unfit for human habitation;

 

(b) Fail, during the terms of the tenancy, after notice is provided in accordance with M.G.L. c. 111, s. 127L, to

 

1. remedy a violation of law in a dwelling unit which may endanger or materially impair the health, safety, or well-being of the occupant, or

 

2. maintain the dwelling unit in a condition fit for human habitation; provided, however, that said violation of law was not caused by the occupant or others lawfully upon said dwelling unit;

 

(c) Fail to disclose to a prospective tenant the existence of any condition amounting to a violation of law within the dwelling unit of which the owner had knowledge or upon reasonable inspection could have acquired such knowledge at the commencement of the tenancy;

 

(d) Represent to a prospective tenant that a dwelling unit meets all requirements of law when, in fact, it contains violations of law;

 

(e) Fail within a reasonable time after receipt of notice from the tenant to make repairs in accordance with a pre-existing representation made to the tenant;

 

(f) Fail to provide services and/or supplies after the making of any representation or agreement, that such services would be provided during the term or any portion of the term of the tenancy agreement;

 

(g) Fail to reimburse the tenant within a reasonable or agreed time after notice, for the reasonable cost of repairs made or paid for, or supplies or services purchased by the tenant after any representation, that such reimbursement would be made;

 

(h) Fail to reimburse an occupant for reasonable sums expended to correct violations of law in a dwelling unit if the owner failed to make such corrections pursuant to the provisions of M.G.L. c. 111, s. 127L, or after notice prescribed by an applicable law;

 

(i) Fail to comply with the State Sanitary Code or any other law applicable to the conditions of a dwelling unit within a reasonable time after notice of a violation of such code or law from the tenant or agency.

 

(2) Notices and Demands. It shall be an unfair or deceptive practice for an owner to:

 

(a) Send to a tenant any notice or paper which appears or purports to be an official or judicial document but which he knows is not;

 

(b) Fail or refuse to accept any notice sent to any address to which rent is customarily sent, or given to any person who customarily accepts on behalf of the owner, or sent to the person designated in the rental agreement in accordance with 940 CMR 3.17(3)(b)2.

 

(c) Demand payment for increased real estate taxes during the term of the tenancy unless, prior to the inception of the tenancy, a valid agreement is made pursuant to which the tenant is obligated to pay such increase.

 

(3) Rental Agreements.

 

(a) It shall be unfair or deceptive act or practice for an owner to include in any rental agreement any term which:

 

1. Violates any law;

 

2. Fails to state clearly and conspicuously in the rental agreement the conditions upon which an automatic increase in rent shall be determined. Provided, however, that nothing contained in 940 CMR 3.17(3)(a)2. shall be deemed to invalidate an otherwise valid tax escalator clause;

 

3. Contains a penalty clause not in conformity with the provisions of M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B;

 

4. Contains a tax escalator clause not in conformity with the provisions of M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15C;

 

(b) It shall be an unfair or deceptive practice for an owner to enter into a written rental agreement which fails to state fully and conspicuously, in simple and readily understandable language:

 

1. The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the owner, and any other person who is responsible for the care, maintenance and repair of the property;

 

2. The name, address, and telephone number of the person authorized to receive notices of violations of law and to accept service of process on behalf of the owner;

 

3. The amount of the security deposit, if any; and that the owner must hold the security deposit in a separate, interest-bearing account and give to the tenant a receipt and notice of the bank and account number; that the owner must pay interest, at the end of each year of the tenancy, if the security deposit is held for one year or longer from the commencement of the tenancy; that the owner must submit to the tenant a separate written statement of the present condition of the premises, as required by law, and that, if the tenant disagrees with the owner’s statement of condition, he/she must attach a separate list of any damage existing in the premises and return the statement to the owner; that the owner must, within thirty days after the end of the tenancy, return to the tenant the security deposit, with interest, less lawful deductions as provided in M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B; that if the owner deducts for damage to the premises, the owner shall provide to the tenant, an itemized list of such damage, and written evidence indicating the actual or estimated cost of repairs necessary to correct such damage; that no amount shall be deducted from the security deposit for any damage which was listed in the separate written statement of present condition or any damage listed in any separate list submitted by the tenant and signed by the owner or his agent; that, if the owner transfers the tenant’s dwelling unit, the owner shall transfer the security deposit, with any accrued interest, to the owner’s successor in interest for the benefit of the tenant.

 

(c) It shall be unfair and deceptive practice for an owner to fail to give the tenant an executed copy of any written rental agreement within 30 days of obtaining the signature of the tenant thereon.

 

(4) Security Deposits and Rent in Advance. It shall be an unfair or deceptive practice for an owner to:

 

(a) require a tenant or prospective tenant, at or prior to the commencement of any tenancy, to pay any amount in excess of the following:

 

1. rent for the first full month of occupancy; and

 

2. rent for the last full month of occupancy calculated at the same rate as the first month; and

 

3. a security deposit equal to the first month’s rent; and,

 

4. the purchase and installation cost for a key and lock.

 

or, at any time subsequent to the commencement of a tenancy, demand rent in advance in excess of the current month’s rent or a security deposit in excess of the amount allowed by 940 CMR 3.17(4)(a)3.

 

(b) fail to give to the tenant a written receipt indicating the amount of rent in advance for the last month of occupancy, and a written receipt indicating the amount of the security deposit, if any, paid by the tenant, in accordance with M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B;

 

(c) fail to pay interest at the end of each year of the tenancy, on any security deposit held for a period of one year or longer from the commencement of the term of the tenancy, as required by M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B;

 

(d) fail to hold a security deposit in a separate interest-bearing account or provide notice to the tenant of the bank and account number, in accordance with M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B;

 

(e) fail to submit to the tenant upon receiving a security deposit or within ten days after commencement of the tenancy, whichever is later, a separate written statement of the present condition of the premises in accordance with M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B;

 

(f) fail to furnish to the tenant, within 30 days after the termination of occupancy under a tenancy-at-will or the end of the tenancy as specified in a valid written rental agreement, an itemized list of damage, if any, and written evidence indicating the actual or estimated cost of repairs necessary to correct such damage, in accordance with M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B;

 

(g) fail to return to the tenant the security deposit or balance thereof to which the tenant is entitled after deducting any sums in accordance with M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B, together with interest, within thirty days after termination of occupancy under a tenancy-at-will agreement or the end of the tenancy as specified in a valid written rental agreement;

 

(h) deduct from a security deposit for any damage which was listed in the separate written statement of present condition given to the tenant prior to execution of the rental agreement or creation of the tenancy, or any damages listed in any separate list submitted by the tenant and signed by the owner or his agent;

 

(i) fail, upon transfer of his interest in a dwelling unit for which a security deposit is held, to transfer such security deposit together with any accrued interest for the benefit of the tenant to his successor in interest, in accordance with M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B;

 

(j) fail, upon transfer to him of a dwelling unit for which a security deposit is held, to assume liability for the retention and return of such security deposit, regardless of whether the security deposit was, in fact, transferred to him by the transferor of the dwelling unit, in accordance with M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B; provided, that 940 CMR 3.17(4)(j) shall not apply to a city or town which acquires property pursuant to M.G.L. c. 60 or to a foreclosing mortgagee or a mortgagee in possession which is a financial institution chartered by the Commonwealth or the United States, or;

 

(k) otherwise fail to comply with the provisions of M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B.

 

940 CMR 3.00 shall not be deemed to limit any rights or remedies of any tenant or other person under M.G.L. c. 186, s. 15B(6) or (7).

 

(5) Evictions and Termination of Tenancy. It shall be an unfair and deceptive practice for an owner to:

 

(a) Deprive a tenant of access to or full use of the dwelling unit or otherwise exclude him without first obtaining a valid writ of execution for possession of the premises as set forth in M.G.L. c. 239 or such other proceedings authorized by law;

 

(b) Commence summary process for possession of a dwelling unit before the time period designated in the notice to quit under M.G.L. c. 186, s. 11 and 12, has expired; provided, however, nothing in 940 CMR 3.17 shall effect the rights and remedies contained in M.G.L. c. 239 s.1A.

 

(6) Miscellaneous. It shall be an unfair and deceptive practice for an owner to:

 

(a) Impose any interest or penalty for late payment or rent unless such payment is 30 days overdue;

 

(b) Retaliate or threaten to retaliate in any manner against a tenant for exercising or attempting to exercise any legal rights as set forth in M.G.L. c. 186, s. 18;

 

(c) Retain as damages for a tenant’s breach of lease, of the failure of a prospective tenant to enter into a written rental agreement after signing a rental application, any amount which exceeds the damages to which he is entitled under the law, or an amount which the parties have otherwise agreed as to the amount of the damages;

 

(d) Require payment for rent for periods during which the tenant was not obligated to occupy and did not in fact occupy the dwelling unit unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the parties;

 

(e) Enter a dwelling unit other than (i) to inspect the premises, or (ii) to make repairs thereto, or (iii) to show the same to a prospective tenant, purchaser, mortgagee or its agents, or (iv) pursuant to a court order, or (v) if the premises appear to have been abandoned by the tenant, or (vi) to inspect, during the last 30 days of the tenancy or after either party has given notice to the other of intention to terminate the tenancy, for the purpose of determining the amount of damage, if any, to the premises which would be cause of reduction from any security deposit held by the owner.

 

(f) To violate willfully any provisions of M.G.L. c. 186, s.14.

 

(g) It shall be an unfair practice for any owner who is obligated by law or by the express or implied terms of any tenancy agreement to provide gas or electric service to an occupant:

 

1. To fail to provide such service; or

 

2. To expose such occupant to the risk of loss of such service by failing to pay gas or electric bills when they become due or by committing larceny or unauthorized use of such gas or electricity. For the purpose of this regulation a bill shall be deemed “due” only after the owner has had an opportunity to contest it at a Department of Public Utilities hearing or any appeal from such hearing during which termination of service has been stayed.