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January 31, 2019 |

Your Landlord Wants to Renovate or Repair Your Apartment: What Are Your Rights?

Sometimes when a rental property is occupied, a landlord will decide that repairs or renovations are necessary or desirable. But living in an apartment when repairs or renovations are underway can be noisy, uncomfortable, and even dangerous.

You are going to have a lot of questions when faced with this situation. Are you going to have to move? Should you move? Can you get reimbursed for moving expenses? What exactly are your rights as a tenant when your landlord decides to renovate the apartment you are living in?

The answer to all these questions depends on is whether and to what extent your landlord is about to breach the warranty of habitability and/or the covenant of quiet enjoyment.

While a Boston landlord tenant lawyer is in the best position to address your particular issues and offer advice on your specific options, the following general information can help you understand both your rights as a tenant and your landlord’s legal obligations to keep your home safe and free of disturbances.

Warranty of Habitability

According to Massachusetts law, tenants have the right to reside in safe and habitable rental properties.

By virtue of accepting payments for rent, landlords are guaranteeing that the property they are renting meets certain standards of livability. In other words, the property must be maintained in a good and safe condition. This is called the warranty of habitability and exists as a matter of law, whether or not it is explicitly stated in a rental agreement.

If your landlord’s planned renovations will breach this warranty of habitability, you may have the right to withhold all or a portion of your rent, terminate your lease and even recover moving expenses.

Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

Despite its name, the covenant of quiet enjoyment isn’t about noise, although excessive noise in a rental property could trigger an assertion that the covenant has been violated.

Simply stated, under Massachusetts law a tenant has the right to the reasonable use of a leased home, and that includes the right to maintain possession of the leased premises in peace. If renovations or repairs of the rental home interfere with your use of the premises or causes prolonged disturbance, this could be considered a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Like the warranty of habitability, a tenant has a right to quiet enjoyment of the property by operation of law, regardless of whether or not the lease specifically provides for it.

In an action for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, a tenant can seek reimbursement for any costs incurred for making the premises habitable as well as the cost of moving to another home. In addition, in some circumstances a tenant can ask the court to order the landlord to stop the activities that are interfering with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the property.

A Boston Landlord Tenant Lawyer Can Help

Whether and to what extent renovations of a rental property constitute interference with the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment or make the premises uninhabitable is dependent upon the circumstance of each case.

The best way to understand your rights and potential remedies is to consult with an experienced Boston landlord tenant lawyer. We encourage you to contact the Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannafin at (617) 848-4572 or schedule an appointment online today.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information

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