On April 20, 2020, the Massachusetts legislature enacted special landlord-tenant laws (Session Law – Acts of 2020, Chapter 65) for those financially impacted by COVID-19.
The regulations will remain in effect for 120 days or for 45 days after the current state of emergency ends.
According to Section 4(a) of the Act, a landlord who is holding a tenant’s last month of rent may use those funds to pay for necessary expenses related to the leased property.
The section states:
a lessor who received rent in advance for the last month of tenancy…may access and utilize the funds received from said last month’s rent in advance. A lessor may utilize such funds to pay for expenses, which may include, but shall not be limited to, mortgage payments, utilities, repairs and required upkeep.
A landlord may not, however, use such funds as compensation for a tenant’s missed rent payments.
Additionally, the landlord must notify his tenant in writing that:
(i.) the lessor utilized such funds before the last month of tenancy;
(ii.) the lessor remains obligated to apply said rent in advance to its intended application as rent for the last month of tenancy; and
(iii.) the tenant is entitled to the same amount of interest from the lessor…that would have accured had the lessor not utilized such funds before the last month of tenancy.
The law further states that the executive office of housing and economic development shall create a standardized form for providing such notice to tenants.