Tenant Law in Massachusetts
Relations between tenants and landlords in Sandwich, Massachusetts can occasionally be touchy. The fact is that it's not easy to be a landlord or a tenant, particularly because landlords and tenants often don't understand the legal rights and responsibilities that apply to them.
There are various 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 Sandwich, 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 usually able to evict the tenant without too much trouble, though the process can sometimes get fairly complicated.
Landlords also have a right to be paid for damage to the building that a tenant causes, either intentionally or negligently. All damage caused by a tenant, besides reasonable wear and tear, can be billed, and the landlord can deduct from the tenant's security deposit to pay for repairs.
Tenant's Rights in Sandwich, MA
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Thus, landlords in Sandwich, Massachusetts must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal standards that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Tenants also have a right to ensure that the common areas of their apartment building are reasonably safe. Landlords are required to make sure that the common areas of their buildings meet Sandwich, Massachusetts's building codes, and that there are no conditions that create unnecessary safety hazards. They are obligated to make, at their own expense, the required repairs.
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 grave civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords further cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For instance, 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.
Lastly, tenants are legally protected from arbitrary eviction. Landlords typically 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 Sandwich, Massachusetts Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, chances are that you want to prevent conflict. But if you do end up in a seemingly irresolvable conflict with the other party, a Sandwich, Massachusetts attorney can help you protect your rights.