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December 29, 2017 |

What Are My Landlords Obligations to Make My Apartment Habitable?

It is not enough that you have a roof over your head. Your landlord is required to keep your home habitable. But, what exactly does “habitable” mean?

Basically, a habitable home is safe and healthy. More specifically, the term is defined in four basic areas of law — the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code, Boston ordinances, implied warranty of habitability and law of quiet enjoyment. 

Massachusetts State Sanitary Code

The Massachusetts State Sanitary Code requires your landlord to maintain a home that is comfortable and clean enough for you to live safely. This law establishes minimum legal standards, such as requiring your home to have electricity, water and heat. In addition, doors and windows must have working locks that allow you to secure the premises, but also be able to exit in case of an emergency. Your landlord must rectify safety hazards, such as lead paint, gas leaks and rodent and cockroach infestation.

Boston Health Ordinances 

Boston’s local ordinances set stricter criteria of habitability in addition to standards that are part of the State Sanitary Code. Your apartment must be at least 150 square feet, with an additional 100 square feet for each additional tenant who resides there, and receive some natural light and air. All units must have working smoke detectors and electrical outlets. If the landlord pays for heat, the temperature cannot drop below 68 degrees during the day and 64 degrees at night in the fall, winter and spring months. At minimum, your bathroom must contain a toilet with a seat, a bathtub or shower, a light fixture, a closable door and a sink other than your kitchen sink. Boston ordinances also cover a number of other issues, such as trash, lighting and pests in common areas.

Implied Warranty of Habitability

Implied warranty of habitability imposes a legal duty on your landlord regardless of the terms of your lease. Under this legal theory, your landlord must repair problems that make your home uninhabitable and you can withhold rent until your landlord meets this obligation. If the landlord refutes its duty or your rights, our firm may create an escrow account to hold the funds until the matter is fully resolved. This shows your good faith and protects you against eviction or interest and late fee accrual.

Law of Quiet Enjoyment 

A common tactic is to harass tenants until they leave so the landlord can command a higher rent. Tenants also fear that their landlord will retaliate against them for exercising their rights to a habitable home. Fortunately, the law of quiet enjoyment prohibits your landlord from intentionally interfering with your quiet enjoyment of your home.

Don’t live in a home that is unsafe. Call our Boston tenant dispute lawyer at (617) 848-4572 to learn more about your tenant’s rights can reveal other conditions that merit pursuing security deposit refunds.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information

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