If you’re a fixed-term tenant in Massachusetts, a landlord is only allowed to increase your rent when your lease is up—unless there’s a clause in the lease that specifically allows for it.
If you’re a month-to-month tenant, your rent can be raised at any time. However, your landlord is required to give you at least 30 days notice before putting the increase into effect. If, for whatever reason, you pay less frequently than monthly but more frequently than every three months, then your landlord must provide you with notice equivalent to your rent period. (For example, if you pay rent every two months, they must give you two months notice of an increase.)
There is no rent control in Massachusetts, meaning that there's no limit to how much your landlord can raise the rent. Coronavirus has not changed this—although many states passed laws to protect renters from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic, they haven't gone so far as to ban rent increases. There are no restrictions (temporary or otherwise) in Massachusetts that prevent your landlord from raising your rent during this time. That said, you can always try to negotiate if you're faced with a rent hike—the rental market is uncertain for landlords, too, and they may prefer to have you stay at your original rate rather than search for a new tenant.
Once you receive notice of a rent increase, you can negotiate with your landlord before the rent increase kicks in. Since you don’t know where that conversation will lead, it also makes sense to begin looking for alternate housing during this period. If you remain in the apartment after the first day of the rent increase, you owe the higher rent for that month—so don’t overstay if negotiations have come to a standstill.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.
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