Rooming Houses


We are updating this and many other pages about tenants rights' in private housing.

You can get the updated information from PDF files while we update our web pages. See Legal Tactics: Tenants' Rights in Massachusetts, 2017.

September 2017

Produced by Stefanie Balandis
Created July 2008

If you live in a rooming house, you have rights—despite what your landlord or others may tell you. For example, whether you have lived in a rooming house for one day, one week, or one month, an owner cannot lock you out of your room without permission from a judge.

What your rights are will depend on how long you have lived in your rooming house. In some cases, they will be the same as those of other tenants. In other cases, they may be different.

This chapter will tell you what your rights are and what steps you can take to protect yourself if you live in a rooming house. In addition, you may need to learn about laws that protect tenants in general and to read other chapters in this book.

As you read, keep in mind that the rights of rooming house residents are not cast in stone and continue to change.1


1 . State legislation to modernize the statewide definition of lodging house was filed in 2007 for the 2007-2008 session and is still pending as of July 2008. SeeHouse Bill H-1271, which would change the definition of lodging house to: "1) a dwelling containing 5 or more single room occupancy units, or a dwelling let to 5 or more persons who are not a family or a single housekeeping unit; or 2) a dwelling let to a person who conducts a lodging house by subletting the dwelling to 4 or more additional persons not part of the conductor's family or single housekeeping unit."

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am and 4pm