Rental Notices and Your License Card

by Joseph Autilio | Jul 01, 2014
Answers to agents’ questions regarding real estate licensing in Massachusetts.
Q. Do I have to provide any Board notices when I’m renting apartments?

A.
Yes, there is an apartment rental fee notice contained in Board Regulation 254 CMR 7.00(1) which provides that an agent, who intends to charge a prospective tenant a fee for assisting them in finding an apartment to rent even where no tenancy is created, must disclose this to the prospective tenant in writing and ask them to sign the disclosure. A prospective tenant is naturally not a tenant at the moment you meet them but someone seeking a tenancy. Also, the regulation requires you to give the disclosure at your first personal meeting with a prospective tenant. You must keep a copy of that disclosure for your records and, naturally, if the prospective tenant declines to sign such disclosure you must note that on the disclosure. The written notice requirement is placed upon the agent and, consequently, the Board does not have a Board form. The regulation tells the agent what language to put in their written disclosure.

The Board has the disclosure requirement given the complaints it receives in this area and its view that prospective tenants should know whether they will pay a fee for the assistance of agents in finding apartments to rent even when a tenancy is not created. The regulation requires that disclosure is up front so that there are no surprises. Prospective tenants are then free in these situations to retain the agent’s services knowing what it will cost them or search for another agent on terms that are more amenable. Obviously, the notice does not come into play unless the agent intends to charge a fee for his/her services where no tenancy is created. Where an agent’s fee is dependent on the creation of a tenancy then the regulatory disclosure requirement would not apply.

In most cases, agents only charge for their services when the prospective tenant obtains a tenancy in an apartment and, of course, you should disclose this to the prospective tenant in writing. But the Board, through its regulation, was concerned where prospective tenants pay up front for the agent’s assistance and the agent refuses to return their payment in situations where there is no tenancy for the prospective tenant.

Please refer to the actual regulation for the full particulars of the requirement. You can find the apartment rental fee notice regulation and all the Board’s regulations by going to its web page at www.mass.gov/dpl/boards/re.

Q. Must I wait for my license card before I am licensed?

A.
No, though the Board is sure that those you deal with may want to see it. The actual printing of the cards is done by a vendor outside of the Board and its parent agency, the Division of Professional Licensure. In fact the outside vendor does it for all of the DPL boards. Simply check the Board’s database online and this will show your licensure status.