LA 245 Week 10 Notes
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Frankie Fucci on Sunday April 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to LA 245 at Boston University taught by David Randall in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 11 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Law in Law at Boston University.
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Date Created: 04/03/16
Massachusetts Landlord/Tenant Law What Students Need to Know Legal & Illegal Fees: o When you move in, landlord can charge you first and last month's rent, security deposit and a lock fee Cannot charge you any other fees (ex: pet/holding fee OR brokerage fee unless he's a licensed realtor) Noise: o Annoying your neighbors --> complaints --> maybe eviction Security Deposit/Last Month's Rent: o Can require you to pay security deposit and last month's rent Has to be equivalent to one month's rent for each o If he collects these payments he must: Give proper receipts Pay interest to you on annual basis AND (W/ regard to security deposits) put the month in a separate account in a bank in MA Condition of Apartment: o Before entering agreement, check out condition of the apartment o Inform landlord of any noted condition, so as to not be charged for those damages Registration & Inspections: o Landlords must register rental units with city's Inspectional Services Department and post contact info in the building o Rental units must be inspected at least once every five years to ensure they comply with State Sanitary Code Unless: units in 1-to-6 unit owner-occupied dwellings and public property Code Violations: o Entitled to an apartment that is in compliance with local and State Sanitary and Building Codes o Violates should be reported to landlord in writing If he doesn't make necessary repairs, call City of Boston's Inspectional Services Department Renter's Insurance: o Good idea and can be surprisingly affordable o In case of fire or theft Leases & Tenancies-At-Will: o Lease: Read carefully before signing it Typically run for one year, and are binding legal contracts More security o Tenancy-at-will: Gives you opportunity to move out after giving the landlord a proper 30-day written notice Allowed landlord to ask you to leave or to give a rent increase with proper 30-day written notice Less security o Keep copy for records Roommates: o Violation of Zoning Code for 5+ undergraduate college students to share an apartment in Boston o If you have a lease and roommate moves out, you will probably be responsible for paying entire rent Evictions: o If landlord wants to evict you: Must terminate your tenancy with proper written notice File summary process in court o Only judge can ultimately evict you o Make sure to respond to any court docs you receive If you don't show up in court, you will lose by default What Tenants Need to Know Same as above What Landlords Need to Know Screening Tenants o References and proof of employment Don't have these, consider having a co-signer on lease o Tenant screening service and/or credit reporting agency Types of Tenancies o Lease - runs for one year More security o Verbal/written tenancy-at-will agreement - runs month to month o More flexibility Registration & Inspections o Same as above Heat & Utilities o Tenant only required to pay for utilities if there are separated meters for each service charged o If you hold tenant responsible to pay for heat and hot water, it is best to put that agreement into writing Mediation o Information process where you and tenant try to reach resolution with help of impartial mediator o If you and tenant have a dispute you cannot resolve Basic Facilities o Each unit must have working stove/oven, screens for each window below fifth floor from April-October, working locks on all windows and entry/exit doors o Not required to provide refrigerator, blinds, shades or laundry BUT if you offer them, you must maintain them Security Deposits & Last Month's Rent o Same as above o Important to comply with strict requirements of security deposit law Timely Rent Payment o No "grace period" for payment of rent o Entitled to rent on day specified by terms of tenancy o You may charge late fee only if there is a written agreement in effect that allows it Cannot be charged unless the rent is at least 30 days late Legal & Illegal Fees o Same as above Evictions o Same as above o Many landlords hire attorneys to help with the lengthy and complicated process FAQs With few expectations, no limit on what landlord can charge With few expectations, rents can be raised without limitation o Lease can protect you from unexpected increases during its term Rent cannot be raised until the lease ends o Tenancy-at-will only requires 30-day notice What to do if landlord won't accept a rent payment o Protect against possible non-payment evictions: Create record of willingness to tender payment Set money aside and send letter by certified mail Inform landlord rent is available Late fee can only be charged if: o Written agreement allows it o Rent is at least 30 days late Landlord can ask for security deposit at whatever time during tenancy o BUT if lease doesn't have security deposit provisions, landlord cannot ask for it until he provides you with a new tenancy Building with 4+ apartments: landlord must post his name and address or name/address of management company in the building o If no posting, check with City of Boston's Assessing Department According to Code Enforcement Police, garbage must be put out in double-ply plastic garbage bags or in barrels o If tenant at fault --> he will be ticketed, otherwise goes to landlord Painting an apartment only required if violation of State Sanitary Code is involved o Must get written approval from landlord to paint for aesthetic Work being done on building: o If permit required: should be posted and visible from the street o If not posted: call Inspectional Services Department to see if its necessary Construction hours: o 7AM - 6PM weekdays o After hours/weekends - must have Special Construction Permit issued by Inspectional Services Department Not particular criteria for this type of permit Landlord can shut off utilities temporarily if it's necessary/safer to work that way If landlord doesn't pay a bill, you should enter into payment agreement with Boston Water & Sewer o Payments deducted from your rent until account is no longer in arrears Disturbing noise: o If it's coming from an apartment that is owned by the landlord, it is his responsibility to do something about it Might even have to evict the noisy tenant if a reasonable solution cannot be worked out o In the building next door: Call the police and complain Your landlord isn't responsible unless he owns the neighboring building and therefore has some control Real estate broker charges fee for an apartment that doesn't have everything she promised. Where can I file a complaint? o Call the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespeople o the Board issues and renews licenses and accepts and investigates complaints against brokers and salespeople. Lease runs out in four months but I want to move now. How can I break my lease o If you break the lease, the landlord can hold you responsible for any unpaid rent under the lease and/or for the costs associated with finding a tenant to replace you. A landlord says I must have someone co-sign my lease. Can s/he do that? o Yes s/he can, if s/he has a legitimate concern about income level or credit history. I have to leave town for the summer. Can I sublet my apartment? o Under most standard written rental agreements, a tenant cannot sublet without the permission of the landlord. Do I have to sign a lease or can I be a tenant-at-will? o This is up to your landlord. S/he has a right to insist on a lease if s/he wants one My landlord has asked me to renew my lease now, but my current lease doesn't expire for another 4 months. Can he do that? o Yes. The good news is that you don't have to sign a new lease way in advance of the end of your current lease. The bad news is that if you don't, the landlord may find a new tenant to take your place at the end of the lease. My tenant put new locks on her apartment door. Am I allowed to demand a key? o A tenant is not required to supply a key to the landlord, unless the lease or written tenancy-at-will agreement states that she must do so. However, tenants are obligated to allow the landlord reasonable access to do repairs, especially in the case of an emergency. Can my landlord go into my apartment without telling me in advance to do repairs? o Unless there is an emergency, the landlord must give you reasonable notice. The landlord may go into an apartment to inspect it, do repairs or show it to others, if this is stated in the lease. I've had a parking space for several years. All of a sudden the landlord says I can't park there anymore. Can she do that? o Yes. If your parking space was provided by informal arrangement, it can be terminated with a written 30-day notice. However, if parking is a service included in your lease, it cannot be taken away until the lease expires. My landlord is angry with me because I recently complained to the Inspectional Services Department about the bad condition of my apartment. Now she is trying to evict me. Can she do that? o By law, there is a presumption of retaliation if the landlord tries to evict you within six months of your official complaint. In order to overcome this presumption, the landlord would have to prove that she would have taken the same actions in the same way and at the same time regardless of your complaint about the conditions. I have mice in my apartment. I told my landlord but he hasn't responded. What can I do? o The occupant of a one-unit dwelling is responsible for the extermination of insects, mice, rats and skunks. The owner of a dwelling with two or more units is responsible for the extermination of insects, mice, rats, and skunks. Call the Inspectional Services Department (ISD). If your apartment is infested, ISD will order your landlord to exterminate.