Submitted by admin on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 08:25
Hello. I am reviewing a lease prior to taking an apartment, and I have found a clause for late fees. Isn't it illegal in Massachusetts for landlords to charge late fees? (Posted by Watchme on the Forum.)
Hi, Watchme. Massachusetts law only prohibits late fees for rent payments that are less than thirty days late. So you will have to look at the wording of your lease. If the lease clause is illegal, you should simply ignore it (assuming you want the apartment). Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A, Sections 2(c) and 9, your landlord is prohibited from attempting to enforce illegal clauses.
Here are some other examples of illegal clauses:
-A clause that allows the landlord to use your security deposit for anything other than damage caused by the tenant or unpaid rent.
-A clause that attempts to make the tenant responsible for all repairs. Under MA law, the tenant is only responsible for the cost of repairs when she breaks something.
-A clause that requires the tenant to pay for utilities when those utilities are not separately metered.
-A clause through which the landlord attempts a "waiver of liability" (eliminating the landlord's liability for negligence that results in an injury to a tenant or guest).
-A clause in which the tenant waives her right to a jury trial (MA law give the tenant a right to a jury trial in eviction cases).
Also, if the landlord tries to evict you based on your violation of an illegal clause, you can raise that as a defense to the eviction. (940 C.M.R. § 3.17(3)(a)(1)).