Legal Heat and Other Landlord Duties in Boston


April 8, 2019

Owning rental property can be an incredibly beneficial and lucrative investment. It can also be a great way to help out fellow human beings and ensure that they have someplace safe and warm to call home. However, there are certain laws, rules, and regulations that a landlord has to abide by, including legal heat.

There can be both benefits and challenges that come with being a landlord. Knowing what responsibilities you have to your tenants and your tenants have to you, based on the law, is a good place to start. Below are some of the landlord responsibilities that must be abided by when renting out property in Boston.

 

Provide a premise that is habitable

As a landlord, it your duty to provide a residence that is habitable. This includes having legal heat that will provide every unit with warmth. The heating season is defined as running from September 16 to June 14. During this time, every room in the residence or apartment building has to be between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. During the other hours, the temperature has to be at 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is often the landlord’s responsibility to pay for the fuel that provides the legal heat, hot water, and electricity. If the written agreement states that it is the tenant’s responsibility to pay for these things, then they are responsible for paying for them.

In addition to legal heat in each room or unit, you are also responsible for ensuring that tenants have hot water. It must be kept at a temperature between 110 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, you are responsible for paying for the fuel for this unit. But you can make it the tenant’s responsibility if it is placed in writing.

legal heat water flowing from tap to sink

Landlords must also provide their tenants with water. You may be able to charge the tenant for water consumption. As well as install a meter to measure how much is used. However, this will have to be billed separately. You are still responsible for making the main water payment. Then collecting payments from tenants for the amount of water they used.

As the landlord, you are responsible for all structural elements in the building. They should be sound so they can withstand various weather conditions. As well as any pests that may try to enter the building.

In the kitchen, you must ensure that there is a sink that can be used to wash dishes. As well as a stove/oven that is in good working order. You must also provide electrical hook-ups for a refrigerator. It’s possible to have the tenant supply these appliances themselves. It will have to be put in writing and the tenant will have to agree to it before moving in.

 

Rent

As a landlord, one of your duties is to collect rent. You also have the right to decide how much the rent will be. It is based on the market for a home or unit that is non-subsidized or that doesn’t fall under rent control restrictions. As a landlord, you may also increase the rent to any amount that seems appropriate following the same rules.

When it comes to increasing the rent, there are a few other things you’ll need to take into consideration. If there is a tenant already living in the property, you have to end the tenancy. Let the renter know that the price of the rent will increase at least one full rental period, but not less than 30 days, in advance.

legal heat woman counting American dollars with nail polish

If a tenant is under a lease, the rent can only be increased after the lease expires. Or if there is another provision written into the lease. Most leases include a renewal deadline, and this should be considered when deciding to increase the rent of the person who signed that lease.

As a landlord, you have the right to prompt payment, which includes the first day of the month. You are allowed to make this payment due on another date, as long as the tenant is aware and agrees to the payment option. In the state of Massachusetts, there is no grace period for late rent. If the tenant doesn’t pay on the first of the month or the agreed upon date, you can begin the eviction process.

When it comes to rent, the landlord can’t charge late fees unless the payment is 30 or more days past due. Conversely, you can’t offer a reduced rent price if the rent is paid before the due date. For example, if you are trying to encourage renters to pay their rent early or on time, you can’t offer to give them a discount if they pay within the first three days of the month.

Owning a rental property can be a worthy investment and a challenging prospect. There are guidelines that must be followed  to ensure the safety of tenants, but there are also items that apply to tenant responsibilities that are in place to protect you. A landlord/tenant relationship can be incredibly fulfilling if both parties know their responsibilities and abide by the rules.

Working with a company like Blueground could help take the confusion out of renting property. They have the skills and expertise to know what laws are applicable and when. As well, they have resources to help you make your tenant feel at home and welcome on the property. They could be a great resource for any questions you might have and help you find the right tenant for your rental.


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