Is your property covered? Renting is an excellent choice for those who want to remain mobile or simply don’t want to purchase a home. But without Massachusetts renters insurance, an individual’s property could potentially be at risk. There are some things that renters should be aware of, both regarding their personal property and their rights. Here are a few highlights of what a renter should know.

  • Landlords can’t charge anything they want for security deposits. Most states have an upper limit on how much a landlord can charge, even if there are mitigating factors, such as a poor credit score.
  • Landlords have to make necessary repairs, such as heating and air conditioning repairs, and perform maintenance in a reasonable amount of time. If they do not, you may be able to make the repairs yourself and take out the amount of the repairs from your rent.
  • Before entering your home, a landlord has to give prior notice. This notice has to be reasonable: they need to notify you in 24 hours and give you a time parameter. They cannot tell you they will be entering “sometime in the next month” or anything equally vague.
  • Landlords have a duty to mitigate their damages. In other words, if you leave early in your lease, they can charge you for leaving early, but they cannot charge you the full amount of the entire term without making an honest effort to fill the space. If another tenant steps in, they cannot collect rent from you both.
  • You need to be provided your deposit back at least 30 days after you’ve moved out. If the deposit was consumed by repairs and other expenses, then the landlord will need to itemize these before the 30 days is out. In most states, the deposit cannot be used for rent that was owed.
  • Landlords cannot keep your property because you didn’t pay rent, and, in fact, that may be a case for your Massachusetts renters insurance policy. They are not allowed to throw out or damage your property until it has been legally abandoned.
  • Landlords cannot perform self help evictions, which are evictions that include changing the locks, turning off utilities, or otherwise forcing you out through unpleasantness. They also cannot evict you without a court order. Damages related to this may also fall under your Massachusetts renters insurance policy.
  • Landlords cannot retaliate against tenants by evicting them or ending their lease because the tenants have complained about or enforced their own personal rights.
  • A lease that has verbiage stating what is illegal is not necessarily a legally binding clause of the contract, as the local laws will trump the legality of the clause.  In such a situation, a tenant may be able to terminate the agreement, due to this.

Tenants need to know their rights, because landlords do. If you decide to rent, you should brush up on the Landlord-Tenant code in your area, in addition to getting a renters insurance policy that suits you and your property.