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September 26, 2017

Common Landlord-Tenant Disputes and Ways to Get Through Them

The landlord-tenant relationship may involve a business agreement. However, when a contract involves the home of one of the parties, it is far more personal than many other legal documents. Even in Boston, where the law focuses on looking out for tenants, common issues can become emotionally-charged and challenging to resolve.

Sometimes, it takes a Boston tenant dispute lawyer to step in and calm the waters, but understanding some basic options can help the disputing parties find equitable solutions without destroying a delicate relationship.

Landlords and Tenants Can Work Together to Resolve Many Common Issues

Few tenants or landlords really want to go to court. In addition to the costs, delays and stress involved, this type of resolution does not typically save relationships. The following are examples of issues that arise repeatedly. Each one can often be resolved without confrontation.

  • Non-payment of rent: With certain exceptions, tenants typically stop paying rent because unavoidable situations left them temporarily unable to pay in full. Of course, landlords need the money, but practicality reminds them of the extensive costs of eviction and finding new tenants. Tenants should notify landlords of financial issues before stopping or delaying payment. Negotiating new temporary payment terms, including a repayment plan is often a viable option for all parties.
  • Broken leases: MA law provides certain valid reasons why tenants may move out prior to lease expiration. Unsafe property, domestic violence and commencing active military duty are just a few reasons. However, in other cases, the law generally permits landlords to charge rent for the full lease term unless the security deposit covers these funds. Tenants who need to leave unexpectedly should inform their landlords of their issues and try to work out a resolution that does not end up in court. Perhaps they can find acceptable sub-letters, or landlords might agree to stop charging for rent once they find new renters.
  • Need for repairs: The State Sanitary Code requires landlords to meet specific cleanliness and safety requirements. When the premises do not meet these requirements, tenants certainly have the right to notify a local housing inspector and start legal action. The first step, however, is to discuss the issues with the landlord. This step is legally required, but when landlords address issues promptly, it also helps maintain a good landlord-tenant relationship.
  • A lack of cleanliness within a rental unit: Just as the landlord is responsible for keeping common areas clean and sanitary, tenants have the same responsibility within their units. Severe cases can result in damage to units and can easily affect other tenants, as well. Landlords have the right to enforce lease cleanliness clauses, but they might get better results when they offer advice or assistance to get the job done.

Negotiation is Key to Resolving Disputes

Landlord- tenant issues may fall under state or local rules and regulations, or they may apply to other types of concerns. Either way, negotiation should be the first course of action before heading to the courts.

Still, particularly when emotions run high, neither party may have the ability to handle discussions as logically as might be needed. To help both parties arrive at equitable solutions, it may be time to seek assistance by contacting the Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannafin at (617) 848-4572.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information



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