As a landlord in Massachusetts, there are a number of rights and obligations that you have concerning any renters. These rights and obligations affect various elements of a rental agreement, including rent, a tenancy agreement, entering the apartment, utilities, and the condition of the premises, amongst other things.
While many landlord-tenant relationships will be formed, maintained, and then dissolved without any disputes, sometimes, issues arise. When they do, meeting with a qualified attorney is recommended. Consider the following common landlord-tenant disputes and how our lawyer can help–
Collecting and Increasing Rent
As a landlord, you will likely encounter at least one tenant over the course of your occupation who fails to pay rent. While landlords maintain the right to prompt payment, understanding your right to collect payment when a tenant defaults can be complicated. Per Massachusetts law, you cannot charge a late fee or a penalty for any rent that is paid past the due date unless it is more than 30 days late. If a tenant continues to default on payment, you may have questions about your rights regarding the collection of payment or/and eviction.
You may also be wondering about your right to increase rent – this is another source of dispute between renters and landlords. You are entitled to increase the rent by any amount you deem appropriate; however, you must provide at least 30 days’ notice to do so, and must wait until the current lease expires. However, you must keep in mind that any increase should be reasonable. If you substantially increase rent, you could be found liable for what is known as a “constructive eviction” of the tenant and this can pose problems for you in court.
Repairs and Damages
Disputes between landlords and tenants often arise in regards to property repairs, damages on the property, and, sometimes, injuries that result in premises liability claims.
It is important to note that as a landlord, you have a duty to maintain a rental in a reasonably safe and habitable condition, and that repairs must be made promptly. However, you are not required to remedy conditions that stem from a tenant’s own fault or negligence, nor can you be held liable for injuries that result from this. What’s more, if a tenant damages your property, you likely maintain the right to seek compensation for damages from the tenant.
Breach of Lease Agreement
When a rental agreement, also called a lease agreement or tenancy agreement, is formed, all parties have a duty to adhere to the terms of the agreement. If a tenant breaches the terms of the tenancy agreement, then you as a landlord have certain rights, such as the right to eviction. Common ways that tenants breach agreements include smoking within a premise, having pets within a premise if not allowed, or hosting other, unauthorized tenants for prolonged periods of time without the consent of the Landlord. Illegal activities upon the premises can also be a cause of breaching a tenancy agreement.
A Landlord-Tenant Disputes Lawyer Can Help
If you find yourself in a dispute with a tenant, hiring a lawyer who can navigate you through your rights and ensure that you’re acting within the law is within your best interests. At the office of Deborah Gold-Alexander, our Massachusetts lawyer has more than 30 years’ experience representing landlords in a variety of disputes. To schedule your initial consultation, please call our law firm today or send our lawyer a message telling us more about your dispute and how we can help.