A Massachusetts rental application is a form that landlords or property management companies use to find the right tenant for a rental property. The application helps potential tenants present their personal and financial information in an organized way for the landlord's approval. Landlords sometimes ask for a non-refundable fee and typically respond to the application within one or two days. If the tenant is approved, they will be given a lease agreement to sign.
RentSpree makes this process fast, easy and safe for landlords and renters. You'll find everything from an online rental application and tenant screening to renters insurance and insurance verification.
Massachusetts laws governing tenant screening and rental applications protect tenants from discrimination and ensure fair and equal access to rental housing. Informational only; not legal advice.
- Fair housing laws: It is illegal to discriminate against tenants based on their race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, religion, disability, familial status, or sexual orientation. The Massachusetts Fair Housing Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act prohibit discrimination in housing and provide legal recourse for tenants who have been discriminated against. Massachusetts Fair Housing Act, M.G.L. c. 151B; Federal Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.
- Rental application fees: Permits landlords to charge an application fee, but the fee must be reasonable and may not exceed the actual cost of screening the tenant. The landlord must provide an itemized receipt showing the actual cost of the screening. Massachusetts law does not specify a maximum amount for the application fee. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 186, Section 15B.
- Credit checks: Landlords may request a credit report as part of the tenant screening process. However, the landlord must obtain written permission from the tenant before obtaining the credit report. The landlord must also provide a copy of the credit report to the tenant if requested. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 93, Section 52; Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1681x.
- Criminal background checks: Permits landlords to conduct criminal background checks on prospective tenants, but landlords must comply with the state's Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law. The CORI law requires landlords to provide the tenant with a copy of the criminal background check report and provide them with an opportunity to dispute any errors. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 6, Section 172 et seq.; Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Law, 803 CMR 2.00 et seq.
- Security deposits: Limits the amount of security deposit that a landlord can charge to one month's rent. Landlords must also provide a receipt for the security deposit and must place the deposit in an interest-bearing account. Landlords must return the security deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out, less any deductions for unpaid rent or damages. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 186, Section 15B.
This is not an exhaustive list of laws and regulations that govern tenant screening and rental applications in Massachusetts. Consult with a licensed attorney to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.