Tenant Law in Massachusetts
Relations between tenants and landlords in Harwich, 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 many 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 Harwich, 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.
Also, landlords have a right to be compensated for damage a tenant causes to a rented unit, either intentionally or negligently. Landlords have a right to deduct repair costs from tenants' security deposits, unless the damage was caused by normal wear and tear, for which tenants are not liable.
Tenant's Rights in Harwich, MA
Most basically, tenants have a right to get what they're paying for: a dwelling fit for human habitation. To this end, landlords have to ensure that the units they rent meet Harwich, Massachusetts's minimum standards for habitability. These requirements are usuallyy not difficult to meet. They include basic amenities such as running water, electricity, a working phone line, heating, and protection from the elements.
Furthermore, tenants are entitled to common areas which are reasonably safe and clean, and free of physical obstacles. Areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes must comply with the building codes of Harwich, Massachusetts. Furthermore, any other unreasonable safety hazard, even if it doesn't violate a specific provision of a building code, can create liability for the landlord if it injures a tenant.
Under federal and Massachusetts law, tenants are also entitled to protection against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, marital status, or gender. Such discrimination can lead to severe civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords also cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For example, they have to allow disabled tenants to make minor physical alterations to the unit (at the tenant's expense) to make it more accessible. Now, they don't need to allow the tenants to have the building remodeled. We're just talking about things like installing handrails in the bathroom, and similar things. The landlord can, however, require tenants to restore the apartment to its original condition, at the tenant's expense, once the tenant leaves.
Tenants are also legally protected from unfair eviction. Before a lease agreement expires, landlords cannot evict tenants unless they breach as significant term of the agreement by not paying rent, causing serious damage to the property, engaging in activities that are a nuisance to the other tenants, or engaging in illegal activity on the property, among other things.
Can a Harwich, Massachusetts Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Tenants and landlords always want to avoid getting into any serious disputes - these disputes interfere with the tenant's living arrangement, and the landlord's business. In short, they help nobody. While a good Harwich, Massachusetts attorney can certainly help his or her client prevail in such a dispute, they may be more valuable for their ability to help prevent such disputes from escalating in the first place.