April 26, 2017
Massachusetts Renters Have Some Options for Handling Tenant Versus Tenant Disputes
Whether a building houses a hundred rental units, just a few or anything in between, they all require some form of community focus. Renters have a contractual relationship with their landlords in the form of a lease agreement; but, they have not signed any form of contract with other renters.
The rules are not always clear when disputes between tenants arise. Since everyone is locked into a lease, however, they generally cannot just move away in these situations. Massachusetts law includes provisions for handling tenant versus tenant disputes. The laws may vary in other states, but the chances are good that state law can help tenants find resolution for many situations.
State Law Often Governs the Most Common Disputes
The following are some examples of common disputes between tenants:
- Arguments between roommates: In most cases, all roommates sign leases that make them each fully liable for rent payments, but the lease does not address the potential challenges that tenants may face when a roommate does not pay his or her portion. A properly-executed Roommate Agreement can help identify everyone’s contractual responsibilities, but resolving these issues may require a trip to Small Claims Court.
- Domestic violence: Unfortunately, another form of dispute within a rental unit is domestic violence. Recognizing that victims of physical violence need ways to escape, Massachusetts law does not hold victims to the normal limitations of a lease. Using proper procedures, they can generally break their leases with minimal financial consequences or have the landlord change the locks.
- Noise disputes: Landlords generally place some form of noise clause in their leases, but Massachusetts law also contains a covenant for quiet enjoyment of a property. Most tenants may be uncomfortable with approaching noisy neighbors directly, particularly if they have concerns that direct contact could escalate the situation and create unpleasant or dangerous results. With the understanding that noise concerns are subject to interpretation, state law holds landlords ultimately responsible for resolving anything that affects a tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the premises. Seek help from the landlord.
- Safety and security concerns: A knowledgeable Boston landlord tenant lawyer is well aware of the fact that Massachusetts landlords are held to certain standards when it comes to making sure that buildings are locked against unauthorized access. But, what happens when neighbors prop entry doors open or, even worse, when seemingly dangerous individuals regularly visit or stay at a neighbor's unit? Since state law holds landlords responsible for reasonable security, situations like these merit a written complaint to the landlord. Of course, imminent danger warrants an immediate call to police.
Extreme Disputes May Call for Legal Intervention
Renters can seldom fully assess the nature of the living situation within their buildings — or even in their own units. Sometimes a rational discussion between tenants can resolve minor concerns. In other cases, renters may need to turn to their landlords for resolution, particularly when the issues are addressed within the leases.
When situations look like they’re leading to eviction, or when safety is a real concern, it may be best to seek advice or representation from an experienced attorney. Contact The Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannafin at (617) 848-4572 for help today.
Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information