As the summer season closes in Massachusetts, college “move-in season” begins in Boston. Finding an apartment in your desired location and price range can be quite a task, but the suitability of an apartment doesn’t end with the signing of the lease. Residential landlords in Massachusetts are required by law to keep their rental properties safe and habitable. But what happens if your landlord doesn’t properly maintain your apartment and you or one of your guests is injured by an unsafe condition on the property?

Massachusetts law creates a cause of action against landlords for personal injuries caused by unsafe conditions on their rental properties if this condition is a result of the landlord’s (1) breach of the implied warranty of habitability and/or (2) negligent maintenance of the premises.

Breach of the Implied Warranty of Habitability

When you and your landlord enter into a rental agreement, the landlord impliedly promises that the property you are renting is habitable and safe. This promise imposes a legal duty upon landlords to maintain their premises so that they are free from dangerous defects.

The Massachusetts State Building and Sanitary Code lays out the minimum safety requirements that a landlord is required to follow pursuant to this warranty. For instance, a landlord must ensure that the foundation, staircases, porches and other structural elements of the rental property are in good repair and fit for use.

Negligent Maintenance of the Premises

A residential landlord also has a duty to protect tenants and their guests from reasonably foreseeable risks of harm. If a landlord knows, or should know, of an unsafe condition in their rental property, he or she has a duty to repair the defect. 

Of course, a landlord can’t fix a dangerous problem he doesn’t know about so it is important to notify your landlord of any unsafe conditions you see in your apartment or in the common areas of the property. It is always wise to notify your landlord of these defects in writing, either by e-mail or snail mail, to ensure they understand the problem.

Even if you don’t notify your landlord of a defect, this duty requires that landlords inspect the common areas on a reasonable basis and make repairs when the age of the infrastructure indicates a likely deteriorated condition.

If you are injured by a defective condition in your apartment or as a guest in someone else’s apartment, you may be entitled to compensation. SUGARMAN has experience in cases like this and can help. Please fill out a Contact Form, call us at (617) 542-1000 or e-mail