Tenant Law in Massachusetts
Relations between tenants and landlords in Westport, 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.
Landlords and tenants have to navigate a web of legal rights and obligations. It's essential that the parties to a landlord/tenant relationship know what obligations they have to one another.
Landlord's Rights in Westport, MA
First and foremost, landlords have a right to timely payment of rent from their tenants, at the agreed-upon rate. This, of course, imposes on tenants a duty to pay their rent in full, in a timely manner.
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 Westport, 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 Westport, Massachusetts are under a legal duty to make sure that their apartments are habitable. There are many 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).
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 Westport, Massachusetts's building codes, and that there are no conditions that create unnecessary safety hazards. They are required to make, at their own expense, the necessary repairs.
Tenants also have rights, under federal and Massachusetts law, to not be victims of racial, ethnic, or gender discrimination in housing, whether they are renting or buying. Furthermore, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against tenants based on physical disabilities. They must also allow physically-disabled tenants to make reasonable modifications to the apartment to make it more accessible. However, the landlord can require tenants to remove those modifications and restore the property to its original condition once the tenant moves out.
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 Westport, Massachusetts Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants almost always prefer to avoid conflict. In a perfect world, tenants would pay rent on time, and landlords would always provide the services that they're being paid for. As we know, the world isn't perfect. When circumstances demonstrate the world's imperfection, a Westport, Massachusetts real estate attorney can help, whether you're a landlord or a tenant.