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Know Your Rights in Case of a Fire

In case of a fire, it is important that tenants and landlords understand their rights and obligations.

You should know:
  1. All landlords' insurance policies for multi-unit residential buildings must provide up to $750 in relocation benefits to tenants. (Mass. General Law, Chapter 175, Section 99, Clause 15)
  2. Landlords upon written request must disclose the name of the insurance company. (Mass General Law, Chapter 186, Section 21)
  3. Tenants should not be charged rent for the period the unit is uninhabitable. And — if the tenant can't come back — the landlord must return the security deposit and last month's rent.
  4. Contact your insurance company (renters, please get renters insurance). 

More Information About Fire

More Information
Boston Emergency Assistance Fund:

A City of Boston fund for victims of fire, condemnation, or natural disaster, that helps cover upfront costs associated with obtaining new housing. Contact the Office of Housing Stability for more information on eligibility and benefits. We also provide additional resources that help connect victims with clothing, food, health services, and furniture. 

Relocation Funds:

Every insurance policy for multi-unit residential buildings must provide up to $750.00 in relocation benefits to tenants or lawful occupants affected by a fire to cover actual relocation costs including:

  • a hotel stay
  • a security deposit, or
  • first month’s rent for a new rental, clothing, furniture, or placement.

Landlords must notify tenants of this benefit at the beginning of the rental period. (Mass. Gen. Law Chapter 175, Section 99, Clause 15)

Landlords must, upon written request of any tenant, disclose the name of any insurance company which may provide coverage or benefits to the tenant within 15 days of the tenant’s request. (Mass. Gen. Law Chapter 186, Section 21)


Tenants should not be charged rent for the period when the unit is uninhabitable. And, if the tenants will not be re-housed, the landlord must return any tenant security deposit or last month’s rent if held, or both.

Priority for Affordable Housing:

Displacement by fire is grounds for priority one status for Boston Housing Authority (BHA) Section 8 and project-based subsidized housing.  Tenants should get a copy of the Fire and Inspectional Services reports as proof of displacement.


The landlord is likely not responsible for fire damage to tenant’s belongings, absent negligence. Renters should have insurance. Learn more at the Housing Stability website, or call 617-635-4200.

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