Last week the Office of New Bostonians launched the “New Bostonians Tenants Rights Guide” interactive site. Here are the top 10 things a New Bostonian Tenant should know when renting a property in Boston:
1.Regardless of your immigration status’ these rights apply to you, and you are entitled to a safe and decent apartment that is kept in good condition.
2.It is illegal for your landlord to discriminate against you for a variety of reasons including - but not limited to - race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, handicap, having children, or because you have a housing subsidy.
3. If your landlord wants to evict you, he has to take you to court. Unless your apartment or building is condemned by Inspectional Services as unsafe or a judge issues an eviction order, you do not have to move out.
4.Cash payments are not a good idea. For you own protection, you should have proof of any payments. If you must pay in cash, make sure that you get a receipt every time. If you pay by money order, make sure that the money order states who is receiving it and what it is for, such as rent.
5.If your landlord wants to increase the rent, you are entitled to a written 30-day notice if you are a tenant-at-will. If you are under a lease, your rent can’t be increased until the lease expires, unless you are in public housing or have a subsidy, in which case the housing agency or landlord must give you written notice of any change in your share of the rent.
6.You may be under a lease or a tenant-at -will. Leases are binding legal contracts, and if you sign one, you are promising to pay the rent for the lease term, so read it carefully. If you have people move in with you with the landlord’s approval, their names should be on the lease too for your own protection. If you are a tenant- at- will (month-to-month),you may have a verbal or a written agreement.
7.You may want to share an apartment with friends or family with the landlord’s permission. Be aware that the law does not allow overcrowding. The housing code states that 150 sq ft of living space is required for the first occupant and 100 sq ft for each additional occupant.
8.The apartment should be in good condition when you move in and repairs should be made as needed. If there are problems, such as no smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, peeling paint, leaky windows, doors that don’t lock properly, electrical problems, insufficient heat or hot water, or an infestation of rodents or bugs, you should report them to your landlord or the property manager in writing. If the problems are not corrected, call the   Boston Inspectional Services Department.
9.Basic facilities must be provided in an apartment, including a working stove and oven, and working locks on all windows and entry/exit doors. If the landlord pays for heat, it should be kept at a minimum of 68 degrees during the day and 64 degrees at night from September 15th through June 15th. In most cases, the landlord must pay for water.
10.When you move in, you may only be charged these fees: first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a security deposit equal to one month’s rent, a lock fee, and a portion of an inspection fee. Other fees, such as move-in fees or pet fees, are illegal.