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Rental Handbook: Paying your Rent

Welcome to the third of nine blog posts aimed at helping renters (and landlords) in the Boston area understand the rights and obligations of tenants (sometimes referred to as renters or lessees). In this Handbook, I will approach issues that you may face in dealing with a rental in the city, or in the surrounding towns of Newton and Brookline.

Today, we will cover Paying the Rent so that you understand what to expect when renting in Boston, Brookline, and Newton.

Tenants have a legal responsibility to pay a landlord for the use of their property. Massachusetts law also provides you with rights that protect the payments you make to the landlord and may allow you to withhold rent if the property does not meet certain standards (we will cover this in week 5).


A landlord cannot demand that you pre-pay rent in excess of those payments allowed by law (first & last month’s rent).

Late Payment Penalty

A landlord cannot charge interest or a penalty on late rent until 30 days after the due date. However, the landlord can begin the eviction process immediately, even if the rent is only one day overdue. The landlord cannot encourage tenants to pay early by providing a reduction in the monthly rental fee.

Rent Increases

A landlord may increase rent by any desired amount, but only at the expiration of a lease term. Tenants at Will may face a rent increase at any time, as long as notice is received at least 30 days in advance (even if the rental is week-to-week).

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