MASSACHUSETTS LANDLORD TENANT GUIDE
Note: Westlaw and Lexis are subscription databases available only to Suffolk Law faculty, students, and staff. Other databases or resources may also only be available to members of the Suffolk community or from computers at the Law Library.
Primary Sources of Law
Gen. Laws Mass. Ch. 93A Consumer Protection
Gen. Laws Mass. Ch. 111 Public Health
Gen. Laws Mass. Ch. 185C Housing Court
Gen. Laws Mass. Ch. 186 Estates for Years and At Will (Landlord-Tenant law)
Gen. Laws Mass. Ch. 239 Summary Process
Code of Mass. Regulations
105 CMR 400.000 State Sanitary Code
780 CMR State Building Code (Law Reserve KFM2859.A1 A29)
940 CMR 3.01, 3.16 and 3.17 Landlord-Tenant Regulations
Massachusetts Court Decisions
Landlord-Tenant matters are heard by the Massachusetts Housing Court; however other courts may hear Summary Process complaints, including the District Courts, Boston Municipal Court, and Superior Courts.
Housing Court Decisions
Select Housing Court decisions are available through the Social Law Databases. To access these decisions, using the Law School Legal Databases. Once on the Legal Databases web page, select Social Law Databases. Consult the Housing Court web site for information about bringing a claim in the Housing Court http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/housingcourt/index.html.
Superior Court Decisions
Select Superior Court decisions are also available on the Social Law Databases, on Westlaw (in the MA-CS database) and Lexis (Massachusetts > Find Cases > MA Superior Court Cases from 1993), and in the print publication, Massachusetts Law Reporter (Law Reserve KFM2445.A2 M37).
Massachusetts Appellate Division
Decisions of the Appellate Divisions of the District Courts and the Boston Municipal Court are printed in Reports of the Massachusetts Appellate Division (Law Reserve KFM2451.A23 2006). Massachusetts Appellate Division cases are also available on Westlaw (in the MA-CS database), on Lexis ( Legal > States Legal - U.S. > Massachusetts > Find Cases > Massachusetts District Court Appellate Division from 1990), and in the Social Law Databases.
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly – Archives
Also available in the Law Library’s online Legal Databases. Contains descriptions of selected recent decisions of the superior court, the district courts, and the appellate division of the district court.
The Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601-3631 (prohibits discrimination in housing rentals)
42 U.S.C. 1404a-1440 Low Income Housing
Code of Federal Regulations
24 C.F.R. Housing and Urban Development (Fair Housing regulations)
Fair Housing Administrative Decisions
(Also available on Westlaw: FAIRHOUS)
Secondary Sources of Law
Handbook on the Legal Obligations and Rights of Public and Assisted-Housing Providers under Federal and State Fair Housing Law for Applicants and Tenants with Disabilities: Massachusetts / Debbie Piltch
(Reading Room Floor 5 KFM2860.5.D5 P55 2000)
Written to address issues from a landlord’s perspective but has some helpful sections, for example a section on federal enforcement mechanisms and possible remedies (e.g. 504 complaint with HUD).
Landlord and Tenant Law: With Forms / E. George Daher
Massachusetts Practice Series Vols. 33, 33A, 34
(Law Reserve and Reading Room Floor 5 KFM 2480.M3 1993; Updated with pocket parts; and available on Westlaw: MAPRAC)
Massachusetts Practice provides thorough coverage of landlord tenant law with citations to prevailing cases and forms. This set includes topics such as Summary Process, Tenant's Special Remedies, and Housing Courts.
Legal Tactics: Tenants' Rights in Massachusetts Private Housing / editor, Annette R. Duke; authors, Dick Bauer ... [et al.]
(Law Reserve KFM2517.Z9 L44 2003)
Geared to tenants; chapters cover topics such as Security Deposits, Taking your Landlord to Court, and Evictions; includes checklists, forms, letters, and text of applicable Massachusetts laws. Directory with a wide range of resources for tenants; available online at: http://www.masslegalhelp.org/housing/legal-tactics1
Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Law / George Warshaw
(Law Reserve KFM2517 .W37 2001; updated with supplements; and also available on Lexis: Legal > States Legal - U.S. > Massachusetts > Search Analysis & CLE Materials > Real Estate > Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Law)
Includes chapters on Terminations, Claims and Defenses for Rent, Summary Process Procedure, Defenses to Eviction, Trial and Judgment, Consumer Protection, Warranty of Habitability and other issues. This treatise also contains forms.
Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Practice: Law and Forms / G. Emil Ward
(Law Reserve KFM 2517.W375 1996 and updated in 2002)
Geared more to the attorney; chapters cover topics such as Defending Against Eviction and Claims for Rent, Chapter 93a-Consumer Protection and Subsidized Housing (Federal and MHFA). Includes footnotes to statutes and leading cases.
Residential Landlord/Tenant Benchbook / editor, Wayne E. Hartwell; contributors, David D. Kerman ... [et al.]
(Law Reserve KFM2517.R465 2005)
Very practical treatise that gives an overview of residential summary process. This treatise also includes applicable case law with a helpful subject index and a bibliography with additional resources.
Residential Landlord/Tenant Law / Doris M. Rezza
(Law Reserve KFM2517.R49 1999.) Very brief and a little out of date but some helpful forms.
Massachusetts Web Pages
List of resources, forms, and a database of questions related to landlord-tenant law with footnoted answers.
Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries: Law about Landlord-Tenant
Annotation list of resources valuable for tenant issues in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries: Massachusetts Law about Public Housing
Brief list of online resources includes pages covering finding subsidized housing and using your public housing grieving process.
Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries: Landlord-Tenant Forms
Links to online forms proved by the Massachusetts courts, Mass. Legal Services, and other sources. Examples of include forms are “Eviction Defense Forms” and “Sample Lockout Letter to Landlord.”
Mass Legal Help - Housing
This web site includes self-help forms, sample letters, booklets, handbooks, and a FAQ section.
Self-Help Guides for Massachusetts Landlords or Tenants
Lease Drafting in Massachusetts / Edward M. Bloom, editor
Boston, MA: MCLE
Law Reserve KFM2517 .L43;
Legal Tactics: Self-defense for Tenants in Massachusetts / Annette R. Duke, editor
Boston, MA: Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Law Reserve KFM2517 .Z9 L44 1993; and
Massachusetts Evictions: Residential and Commercial / Arthur Goldberg
Eau Claire, WI: Lorman Education Services
Law Reserve KFM2517 .Z9 G65 2000
Federal and General Treatises
HDR Handbook of Housing and Development Law / Barry G. Jacobs
(Law Treatises Fl 5 KF5729 .H37 2007 and available on Westlaw: HDRH)
Summary of laws and regulations governing federal housing; includes chapters on Public housing and Section 8 housing.
Housing Discrimination Practice Manual
(Available on Westlaw Only: HDISPRMAN)
This manual is designed to assist private attorneys who are bringing private fair housing suits in federal court.
HUD Housing Programs: Tenants' Rights / The National Housing Law Project
(Law Treatises Fl 5 KF5729.H83 2004)
This valuable resource is an issue-oriented guide for advocates representing publicly subsidized housing clients. This treatise covers many areas including the various public housing programs, admission and tenant selection, individual tenant rents, security deposits, maintenance, evictions and subsidy terminations, and a very helpful chapter on common legal issues.
Restatement of the Law [Second] Property, Landlord and Tenant: as Adopted and Promulgated by the American Law Institute
St. Paul, MN: West Group
(Law Reserve KF590.R47 1977; updated with Pocket Parts.)
Federal Web Pages
National Fair Housing Advocate Online
Contains a newsletter of current fair housing issues, legal research articles, description of HUD settlements, pertinent statutes and regulations. Helpful outline of applicable HUD regulations.
National Housing Law Project
Lots of great resources including links to information packets, recent regulations affecting federal housing, and HUD notices, cases, and regulations by topic.
HUDCLIPS (HUD Client Information and Policy System) contains full text searchable databases of the following: ALL HUD handbooks, ALL HUD notices, United States Code Titles 12 and 42, Code of Federal Regulations Title 24, Federal Register notices, and more.
General Self-Help Guides
Every Landlord’s Legal guide: Leases and Rental Agreements, Deposits, Rent Rules, Liability, Discrimination, Property Managers, Privacy, Repairs and Maintenance, Evictions [electronic resource - available via library catalog] / Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner and Janet Portman
Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press
KF590 .Z9 S74 1998eb.
Every Tenant’s Legal Guide [electronic resource - available via library catalog] / Janet Portman and Marcia Stewart
Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press
KF590 .Z9 P67 1997eb.
The Landlord’s Handbook: the Complete Guide to Managing Small Residential Properties [electronic resource - available via library catalog] / Daniel Goodwin and Richard Rusdorf
Chicago, IL: Real Estate Education
HD1394 .G656 1998eb.
The Landlord’s Troubleshooter [electronic resource - available via library catalog] / Robert Irwin
Chicago, IL: Dearborn 1999
HD1394 .I78 1999eb.
Renters’ Rights: the Basics / Janet Portman and Marcia Stewart
Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press
Floor 5 KF590 .Z9 P673 2000.
If you have questions or comments, please email: Ellen Delaney, Reference Librarian.
Created: July 29, 2005 and updated October 8, 2010.
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