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Top 4 residential rental property challenges in Massachusetts – and how to overcome them

Property management tips
Neighborhood insights
How to rent out your home
Top 4 residential rental property challenges in Massachusetts – and how to overcome them
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Massachusetts is a great region to invest in rental properties, with many great schools, job opportunities, and regional attractions. Here's a quick overview of Boston, Massachusetts, and important demographics to know in 2023.

As a homeowner or property manager in Massachusetts, there are unique challenges when managing residential rental properties. From dealing with difficult tenants to managing repairs and maintenance, here are the top four challenges you might face – and how to successfully overcome them!

Please note that this article is not meant to serve as legal counsel. Please consult a real estate attorney if you have questions about your property or specific contract terms.

Writing a Legally Sound Property Management Lease in Massachusetts

Understanding regional rental law is essential to succeed in the Massachusetts residential rental property business. Not common-sense law, but the specific regulations for landlords and tenants in Massachusetts. You must be ready and willing to dive into your legal research to navigate this heavily regulated market.

In Massachusetts, you must obtain a rental license for any residential property that tenants will rent out. Plus, depending on your specific area of residence within the state, there may also be additional permits and regulations landlords must follow to guarantee compliance with all forms of legislation. Lastly, landlords need to have a written rental agreement with their tenants, regardless of whether it is a month-to-month arrangement or a yearly lease. This legal document not only outlines the expectations and duties on both sides but also helps prevent any potential issues that might arise in the future. A well-crafted contract can be an invaluable tool for the landlord-tenant relationship.

How to overcome this Massachusetts rental homeowner challenge: 

If you're a landlord in Massachusetts, you must be aware of tenant-oriented laws and regulations. To learn more about landlord duties, visit the attorney general's website and spend time researching through researching, reading books, and even consulting specialized lawyers if needed.

Once familiar with Massachusetts rental laws, you must create a solid lease agreement following these regulations. There are lease contract templates online, but these often need more essential details or need to be updated as states continually alter landlord-tenant laws. To effectively protect your rights as a landlord and guarantee the best outcome for yourself, having a real estate attorney draft a custom lease is the optimal approach.

Breaking even on your property investment in Massachusetts

Investing in rental properties can be a great way to generate passive income and long-term wealth. But, as with any business, you must break even on your investments before making a profit. Depending on the area of Massachusetts where you decide to invest in residential rental property, this can be incredibly challenging due to high competition or lower demand for rental properties. In addition, Massachusetts is known for having some of the highest property taxes in the country.

As a landlord, not only are you responsible for covering the mortgage interest, insurance, and taxes associated with your property - but you will also need to cover any repair costs.

Massachusetts has a highly competitive housing market, and finding a substantial bargain is challenging when purchasing a home. Your goal was to make a profit in the long run but given market conditions and timing, it can sometimes feel challenging to break even on your investment.

Do your research and financial planning! Before investing in a rental property, it's important to clearly understand the area's market value. Here are some of the best Massachusetts investment neighborhoods we've identified to look into more closely for investment opportunities.

To offset Massachusetts' high property taxes, you can look into tax abatements and exemptions that could lower your property taxes. You should also research tax incentives offered by local and state governments that could help reduce your tax burden.

Research carefully before investing in any property. Don't expect rental income to offset mortgage costs automatically. Account for expenses carefully. Set fair market prices on your rental property. Increasing rents at least once a year is advisable to ensure that your rental income can keep up with inflation and rising expenses. Invest in a service like Doorstead to help you collect the optimal rental rates and reduce vacancy.

Costly repairs and maintenance on rental properties in Massachusetts

Massachusetts landlords must adhere to the safety standards set by their local Board of Health. Such stipulations include ensuring that essential services, like electricity, water, gas lines, and air conditioning, are in complete working order when potential tenants come for a viewing. This law is meant to protect both parties from any hazardous conditions or costly damages.

As a property manager or landlord in Massachusetts, you must keep rental premises livable and perform any necessary repairs. In addition, legal provisions require you to be prompt and proactive when addressing important issues such as a broken heater.

You'll be responsible for sustaining the condition and functionality of windows, doors, roofs, and walls. You should also ensure that hot/cold water is accessible throughout the building and other services such as HVAC systems, plumbing works, and electrical wiring. Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms must likewise be present in each living space to maximize safety standards.

How to overcome this Massachusetts rental homeowner challenge: 

Regular property maintenance and inspections can help guarantee that you maintain prime market value. By investing in preventative maintenance checks, you can spare yourself from the financial repercussions of costly repairs.

Periodic maintenance, such as cleaning gutters, checking for mold or water damage, and replacing faulty wiring, can help you avoid costly mistakes in the future. The potential for expensive repairs and maintenance on rental properties should be taken seriously and budgeted accordingly.

Massachusetts homeowners can also consider partnering with property management services with a network of vetted local vendors through a regional full-service property manager like Doorstead. Staying on top of repairs and keeping everything up to code will ensure that your investment retains its competitive edge.

Collecting rent on time from tenants in Massachusetts

One of the most common issues landlords face is collecting rent on time every month. Collecting rent on time is essential to keep your business afloat, so you must proactively monitor the payment schedules of all current tenants. Of course, landlords should always expect tenants to pay rent promptly, but further escalation can be needed when this doesn't happen.

Massachusetts landlord-tenant laws don't require late fees for rental agreements. However, you may charge the tenant if your rental agreement includes a late fee clause. Massachusetts landlords must provide tenants with a written rental agreement, including the payment amount, due date, late fees, and other pertinent information.

How to overcome this Massachusetts rental homeowner challenge: 

Prevention is the best policy when it comes to receiving payments. Taking time to check potential tenants' references thoroughly is an essential step in vetting out any high-risk candidates who may have a history of late or non-payment. Screen incoming tenants properly by checking rental history, credit score, and references.

By implementing clear payment policies, landlords can minimize the risk of losses due to late or unpaid rent. In addition, establishing clear communication with your tenants helps facilitate more successful rent collection. Before evicting, consider other options like setting up a payment plan or offering extra incentives for timely payments.

You may also consider implementing a late fee system and an automated rent collection system, which can help encourage tenants to pay on time each month. With the help of property management services, landlords can also easily outsource their property management and rental payment collection. At Doorstead, we offer full-service property management and even guaranteed rent on eligible properties.

Lastly, keep thorough records of all transactions and fees collected. Documentation is key when it comes to landlord-tenant disputes, so make sure you have proof that the tenant agreed to the terms in the rental agreement should any disagreements arise.

Owning residential rental properties in Massachusetts can be challenging – but with the right knowledge, you can make the process more manageable. For further reading on successfully managing your rental home, check out Doorstead's complete guide to renting your home.

These suggestions can help you navigate potential challenges, but please remember that it is not meant to serve as legal counsel. Consult a real estate attorney if you have specific questions. For more property management resources, head over to the Doorstead blog.

By creating a legally-sound lease contract, finding reliable tenants, and balancing your rental profit with property costs, you'll be well on your way to a successful rental property set up in Massachusetts.

Ally Gong
Ally Gong
Content Specialist

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