Tenant Law in Massachusetts
Relations between tenants and landlords in Amherst, Massachusetts can sometimes be touchy. The fact is that it's not easy to be a landlord or a tenant, especially because landlords and tenants often don't understand the legal rights and responsibilities that apply to them.
There are several rights and responsibilities that landlords and tenants have. It's important that each party is aware of their rights, and the rights of the other party. By knowing and respecting these rights, the risk of conflict should be reduced dramatically.
Landlord's Rights in Amherst, MA
Landlords are, of course, entitled to collect rent from their tenants. If a tenant fails to pay the agreed-upon rent, the landlord is typically able to evict the tenant without too much trouble, though the process can sometimes get fairly complicated.
Landlords also have a right to be free from damage to the rented unit. Tenants are expected not to damage their dwellings, intentionally or negligently. Landlords can deduct the cost of repairs from the tenant's security deposit. In general, tenants are not liable for damage resulting from ordinary wear and tear.
Tenant's Rights in Amherst, MA
The most basic right of a tenant is the right to a living space that's fit for human habitation. This is, after all, what they're paying the landlord to provide. Landlords in Amherst, Massachusetts are under a legal duty to make sure that their apartments are habitable. There are several factors that are considered in determining if an unit is habitable or not, but, generally, an unit will not be deemed habitable if it lacks any of the following: running water, electricity, heat, and protection from the elements (such as proper insulation, and windows that close).
Additionally, tenants have rights to common areas that are free of physical obstructions, as well as serious health and safety hazards. Common areas are the places in apartment buildings and other residential complexes which every tenant can access, and include hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes. In Amherst, Massachusetts, these areas must be kept in a safe condition, at the landlord's expense.
A tenant also has a right, under federal law and the laws of Massachusetts to be free from discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, or gender. Landlords can also not discriminate against persons with disabilities, and must make reasonable accommodations for those disabilities.
Finally, tenants are legally protected from arbitrary eviction. Landlords generally must have a very good reason to evict a tenant before the lease agreement reaches the end of its term (at this point, they are of course allowed to decline to renew the lease). Of course, if the tenant breaches the lease agreement (such as by failing to pay rent, damaging the property, or violating other reasonable rules the landlord has put in the lease), the landlord, like a party to any other contract, is free to terminate the agreement and evict the breaching tenant.
Can a Amherst, Massachusetts Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants generally want to avoid conflict with one another. However, conflicts are sometimes unavoidable. If you end up in a major dispute with a landlord or a tenant, a good Amherst, Massachusetts landlord/tenant attorney can help.