When you rent an apartment or house in Massachusetts, a tenant has legal rights and protections under Massachusetts law. A tenant should always know their rights and know what to do if they ever feel those rights are being violated by the actions of a landlord. Shapiro Law Group, PC, can help tenants understand their basic rights, advise tenants before they sign a lease, and help tenants if there is a landlord/tenant dispute that requires legal intervention.
RENT AND SECURITY DEPOSITS
Tenants are protected from rent increases without proper notice and also exorbitant security deposit fees. There must be a 30 day notice to raise rent and that raise must align with fair market values. The security deposit for a unit can’t be more than one month’s rent. Security deposits have to be held in a separate interest-bearing bank account and cannot be withheld without cause. If a portion or all of a deposit is withheld by a landlord, the tenant has the right to see documentation of why. A tenant also has the right to receive the security deposit within 30 days of leaving the unit. Tenants have the legal right to withhold rent if the landlord has not addressed necessary repairs or maintenance issues that landlord is legally obligated to deal with.
DISCLOSURES AND INSPECTIONS
Information about any unit must be disclosed to a tenant. Any tenant has the right to know about lead or any other hazard the unit may contain. A tenant also has the right to have the unit inspected by a health inspector. Any findings of needed repairs or code upgrades found during an inspection must be addressed by the landlord.
EVICTION OR RETALIATION
When it comes to eviction, tenants are legally protected in a number of ways. A landlord must provide a valid reason for eviction. This protects tenants from discrimination or other unjust reasons for eviction. An eviction is a long and detailed process and a tenant can counterclaim against a landlord, essentially fighting the eviction. During the eviction process, a tenant is protected from actions such as turning off the utilities or locks being changed. It is unlawful for a landlord to take any retaliatory action against a tenant while an eviction procedure unfolds. It is also unlawful for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant if that tenant joins or starts a tenant group. If a tenant feels his or her rights are being violated, the litigation attorneys at Shapiro Law Group, PC, can help. Our firm will assess the situation and review any legal documents you have signed as a tenant. We will evaluate your case and determine the best course of action. Knowing your rights as a tenant is the first step when you are entering into a rental agreement. Having us in your corner to protect and defend those rights can be a valuable tool when unexpected situations arise and you find yourself in need of legal support. We will work to protect you because we understand the roof over your head and your family’s head may be at stake. Let us review a lease, explain what you are agreeing to, and help you navigate any disputes or problems that may arise. At Shapiro Law Group, PC, are ready to help you. Contact us to set up your initial consultation. (617) 203-8895.