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Tenant Rights in Massachusetts
The state of Massachusetts has enacted many laws and regulations designed to protect tenants. If you are looking to rent property it is important to understand your basic rights and responsibilities as a tenant under Massachusetts law. These laws can be confusing and challenging to navigate on your own. An experienced landlord-tenant lawyer can help you navigate these laws and answer any legal questions you may have about landlord-tenant relationships.
Warranty of Habitability
Under Massachusetts law, tenants have the right to reside in a safe and habitable rental property. The warranty of habitability protects tenants from having to live in rental units that are in poor condition. When a landlord accepts a rental payment from a tenant, the landlord has a duty to ensure that the property is habitable and in good condition. If the property is unsafe or uninhabitable, the landlord is in breach of the warranty. It is important to know that the warranty of habitability cannot be waived by any clause in the rental lease and it applies to all tenancies, even if the renter does not have a written lease agreement with the landlord.
When a landlord is aware of an unsafe or unsanitary condition in a rental unit and fails to take action to remedy the situation, the landlord is in breach of the warranty of habitability. For instance, if you are living in an apartment that is infested with rodents or lacks running water and your landlord refuses to fix the problem, your landlord has breached the warranty of habitability.
If you believe that your landlord has breached the warranty of habitability you should obtain advice from an attorney skilled in resolving landlord-tenant disputes. Your attorney will explain your legal options, which may include withholding all or a portion of your rent until the conditions are resolved or terminating your lease and moving out of the apartment.
Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment
In Massachusetts, tenants also have the right to quiet enjoyment. This means that if you are renting an apartment you have the right to enjoy your home without unreasonable interference. If your landlord is entering your apartment repeatedly for no reason without your consent, or interferes with your ability to obtain utilities or other services, you may have the right to file a lawsuit and collect monetary damages. Should the court find that the landlord’s actions violate the covenant of quiet enjoyment, the court may award you three months’ rent and impose strict fines and penalties upon your landlord.
Contact a Boston Tenant Dispute Lawyer
If you are a tenant involved in a dispute with your landlord, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. The Law Office of Shaun A. Hannafin can explain your rights and help you determine whether you may have a legal cause of action against your landlord. Our firm is located in the Back Bay neighborhood of downtown Boston and we offer free, initial consultations. Contact us today at 617-848-4572.