Late Fees in Massachusetts Residential Leases

You are a Massachusetts landlord. You are leasing an apartment to a tenant. In the event that the tenant pays rent late, you want to be able to collect a late fee from him or her.

Can the landlord impose a late fee against a tenant who pays rent late?

“No lease or other rental agreement shall impose any interest or penalty for failure to pay rent until thirty days after such rent shall have been due.” G. L. c. 186, § 15B (1) (c).

Under this statute, the landlord can include a lease provision that requires the tenant to pay a late fee, but only if the late fee is imposed after the rent has been late for thirty days.

If the lease contains a provision that imposes a late fee when the rent is less than thirty days late, the landlord will not be able to collect it. Such a provision would most likely be deemed to be against public policy and void and unenforceable.

Robert Nislick is a Massachusetts landlord-tenant lawyer who practices in Boston Housing Court, Worcester Housing Court, Northeast Housing Court, Southeast Housing Court, Western Housing Court, and the summary process session of the District Court.

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