A Massachusetts Rental Application is a document landlords use to screen prospective tenants for real estate property rental before offering a lease agreement.
A landlord may charge only the following fees under Massachusetts law:
- The first full month’s rent
- The last full month’s rent
- A security deposit equal to the first month’s rent
- A lock-change fee (purchase and installation cost for key and lock)
The tenant must provide the security deposit within ten days from the beginning of the lease. The funds must be kept in a separate interest-bearing bank account in Massachusetts. Once you receive the deposit, you must provide the tenant with a written statement of the property’s condition, including a list of any damages on the premises.
Security deposits are refundable within 30 days from the termination of the tenancy unless deductions apply.
Since state law clarifies that landlords can only charge tenants specific fees, pet deposits are not included.
Landlords cannot charge a security deposit more significant than one month’s rent, nor can they impose any additional charges for pets that exceed this amount.
Landlords must follow federal and state laws against discrimination when screening prospective tenants. Federal and State Fair Housing Laws protect prospective tenants from being asked discriminatory questions.
Massachusetts also has anti-discrimination laws prohibiting discrimination based on age, ancestry, genetic information, military or veteran status, marital status, and source of income (i.e., receiving public assistance).
There is an in-state criminal record database called the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI). The landlord must ask the prospective tenant to provide a completed and signed Acknowledgement Form before they can start a criminal background check.
Further helpful resources for landlords include:
How To Conduct an Eviction Record Search
There is no single database for eviction records in Massachusetts. Landlords may use their method of choice to conduct an eviction record search. A popular way is to search the Trial Court records for any housing-related cases with the prospective tenant’s name:
- Navigate to the Massachusetts Trial Court records website
- At the bottom of the page, select “Click here to search public records”
- Select “Housing Court” in the Court Department dropdown box
- Select the desired Court Division and Court Location dropdown options (you can go through all divisions and locations one by one)
- Enter the prospective tenant’s last name and first name
- Click “Search” at the bottom of the page