Notes From the Legal Hotline: October 2023

October 5, 2023

- By The MAR Legal Team

Q: Must a REALTOR® affirmatively disclose whether a listed property is haunted?

A: No, psychological impacts on a property, such as hauntings, are not required to be affirmatively disclosed to a prospective buyer and are, in fact, specifically exempted from affirmative disclosure under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 93, Section 114, commonly referred to as the Stigmatized Property Law.

In 1998, the Stigmatized Property Law was enacted, which specifically states that brokers do not have a duty to investigate or affirmatively disclose murders, suicides, paranormal phenomena, or other possible stigmas. However, as with any direct inquiry from a prospective buyer, a REALTOR® is obligated to provide a truthful answer. If the answer is unknown, or additional information is requested, REALTORS® should direct the buyer to an appropriate resource.

Q: Can a tenant be responsible for paying the water bill?

A: Yes, a tenant may be responsible for the water bill so long as certain requirements are satisfied. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 186, Section 22 requires each of the following conditions to be met in order to charge the tenant for water usage:

  • The unit has submetering equipment installed by a licensed plumber and the tenant is only billed for water used exclusively by their unit;
  • Low-flow fixtures have been installed on faucets, showerheads, and toilets;
  • The tenancy began after March 16, 2005;
  • The prior tenant was not forced out;
  • There is a written rental agreement that includes clear and conspicuous language specifying that the tenant is responsible for the water bill; and
  • The Landlord must have completed the submetering certification form and filed it with the Board of Health.

Failure to satisfy any one of these items prevents the landlord from being able to legally charge the tenant for water usage.


Written by: Justin Davidson, General Counsel; Catherine Taylor, Associate Counsel; Jonathan Schreiber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel; and Kate Berard, Associate Counsel.

Services provided through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service.  The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at