What sort of licensing do you need in Massachusetts before renting out a residential property? What basic regulations do rental properties need to follow?

Who? Me? A Landlord?

Real estate can be the key to financial independence and success. While TV might have popularized the “flipper” model of real estate transaction, in which infusions of cash and elbow grease transform run-down properties into glossy sources of resale profit, the old-fashioned practice of landlording is still an attainable, affordable, and profitable.

To be a landlord (or landlady, though the law uses the generic term landlord to refer to property owners), you do not need to have a large commercial property or build a multifamily complex. Whether you have inherited a single-family house, your mother-in-law suite has gone unused since your mother-in-law moved into a retirement community, or your new college graduate is not staying in your garage apartment nearly as often as you hoped, you may have the makings of a successful run as a landlord.

Where to Begin?

But how do you start leasing out your space? What are the legal requirements to be a landlord in Massachusetts? Is there a licensing board?

There is no licensing requirement for landlords in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but there are a number of rules and regulations that would-be landlords need to adhere to in order to prevent penalties from enforcement agencies or through tenant action.

The rules differ for certain kinds of rental properties—for example, between a single-family property and a multi-family building. This diversity of properties, combined the fact that there are many rules governing the relationship between landlord and tenant from start to finish, from the condition of a dwelling even before a lease is signed to what sort of damage can be taken out of a security deposit, makes it essential that you have a knowledgeable real estate attorney on your side before you rent out a property.

Basics of Health and Safety

As a would-be landlord reviewing the rules that govern landlord-tenant relationships in Massachusetts, a good place to start is the health and safety regulations on leased residences. After all, having extra space does not mean that you necessarily can, under the law, rent it out, confident that you are shielded from liability.

The State Sanitary Code lays out the minimum standards for a rental property’s safety and cleanliness. While the State Sanitary Code may be the start of your legally-compliant career as a landlord, it is far from light reading. At thirty-five pages, it covers everything from the minimum number of bathrooms per person to the legal definition of compost. Even at this starting point, you may feel overwhelmed.

Again, an experienced real estate legal team can help you understand and address the issues governed by the State Sanitary Code and all other aspects of landlord-tenant law. With access to a network of experts, including realtors and property inspectors, a skilled real estate law firm like ours can make the transition to landlording as easy as can be.

Call our office today to discuss your unique needs.

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