Notes From the Legal Hotline: September 2022

September 1, 2022

- By The MAR Legal Team

Q: The financing contingency date in the contract has passed and the buyer has not informed us of whether they received a commitment – is the deal dead?

A: Not necessarily. The passing of any contingency date without an extension or notification of withdrawal by the buyer simply means that the contingency is no longer available to the buyer, but the deal may proceed. If the buyer has not obtained an extension and then is unable to obtain financing to purchase the property, the buyer may terminate the transaction, however, any deposit funds may be subject to forfeiture as liquidated damages to the seller.

As a best practice, buyers and buyer agents should always be certain to maintain open lines of communication with the seller and seller’s agent and request an extension if there is any question about their ability to satisfy any requirement of the purchase contract within the prescribed timeframes.

Q: Can a landlord restrict the number of people who occupy a rental unit?

A: Yes, a landlord may restrict the number of occupants in a unit, but such a restriction must be based in the law. Any occupancy limits must be based off the requirements of the State Sanitary Code, not an individual’s preferences. A landlord should be careful to avoid basing restrictions on criteria that falls within a protected class, such as number of children allowed or a requirement that children of different genders not share a bedroom. The Sanitary Code requires every dwelling unit to have at least 150 square feet of floor space for the first occupant and 100 square feet for each additional occupant. Rooms occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant must have at least 70 square feet of floor space. If more than one occupant will be using a room for sleeping purposes, then there must be at least 50 square feet of floor space for each occupant.


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