Rental Basics in Quincy>Question Details

k.vaughn378, Renter in Boston, MA

Please help.. Landlord/Tenant Rights in Massachusetts

Asked by k.vaughn378, Boston, MA Wed Sep 19, 2012

My boyfriend and I moved into a basement apartment in a one family home {the landlord lives upstairs} in Massachusetts a little over a year ago. There was never a lease or tenant-at-will contract ever written, & therefore never signed. We just recently found out that the apartment is illegal. We got in a disagreement with the landlord, and we were told (verbally) by the landlord that we had to be out in 30 days. We have always kept up with the rent every month, and have rent receipts. Considering that the apartment is illegal, and there were never ANY contracts {lease, tenant-at-will, etc} signed, so therefore we did not break any part of a contract, what exactly are our rights as tenants? What exactly can we do, and what can the landlord do, legally speaking?

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Consult with a real estate attorney. Bring all copies of communications, rent receipts, canceled checks etc. to review. Only an attorney can give you legal advice on how best to proceed. Fortunately for you Massachusetts is one of the most pro-tenant states around. Good luck & check back and let us know how you make out.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 19, 2012
Find a real estate lawyer to make sure you can get the time you need to move out. However, move. Why live in a place where you have issues and where the owner may not be following all the necessary rules to protect your safety.

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1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 20, 2012
TY, I have seen situations where a landlord has had to refund money etc. For illegal activities. That is why consultation with an attorney is vital. With a strained relationship with the landlord life there may not be enjoyable. You may be able to negotiate a better exit strategy a bit more favorable to you. The landlord does lose a lot of protections when they engage in illegal activities. That's why having a legal opinion of your situation and options is important.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 20, 2012
I'm sorry you're going through this. There are many apartments just like this in Massachusetts. That's why there was no lease... Technically, you're a tenant-at-will and that sort of defaults into the 30-day notice category. They do have a right to ask you to leave as long as they give you written advance notice and 30 days. And you have a right to leave on the same terms. It's unfortunate that the apartment is illegal but the truth is that there are many of them and they're the reason the rental crisis isn't as severe as it would otherwise be without them. They keep prices down for the rest of the apartments in the area... If there is an opportunity to make peace with the landlord, it might be something to consider so you can stay. Otherwise, anywhere you move you're likely to pay market rent (probably much higher than what you've got now) and there are no guarantees that everything was done to code.

Alternatively, you can buy a condo... in many areas it is less expensive on a monthly basis and makes more financial sense if you're planning to stay even just a couple of years and have at least 5% for a down payment.

Feel free to email
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 19, 2012
also go on Mass laws you can find a abundance of info about your rights on the website, i'm going through a similar situation and i'm filing a motion for "retaliatory eviction" against my landlord, other tenants in my building may be afraid of the big bad wolf, but i'm not! Good Luck!
Flag Sat Sep 14, 2013
this is called "retaliatory eviction" and you can sue the landlord and quite possibly win. evidence of any and all problems,complaints rent receipts anything and everything you can show to the judge, and you may even win back some of your rent. i would talk to a lawyer that specializes in landlord/tenant disputes, if the apartment is illegal i would also contact the inspection services in your town, they would have a field day with your landlord.
Flag Sat Sep 14, 2013
"Verbally" probably isn't legal service of a Notice To Quit. Even without a lease, you are probably a Tenant At Will if you've been there with the landlord's permission for over 30 days, so 1 year probably establishes this. The landlord probably needs to win possession in court and have a constable do the final eviction, which happens after a trial in housing court. You having been rented an illegal apartment might actually entitle you to damages in housing court. Definitely consult an attorney familiar with housing law and read everything you can about tenant's rights. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 27, 2012
If your apartment is illegal the landlord is doing the right thing by giving you notice to vacate. In a legal apartment when a lease runs out if it is not resigned it automatically becomes a Tenant at Will agreement and a 30 day notice to vacate is all that is required. Hopefully you will make peace with your landlord and be able to get a good recommendation on the next apartment. Julie Berberan
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 20, 2012
up to* 3 months, not us, sorry
Flag Thu Sep 20, 2012
Why wont this website allow me to give you a thumbs down?
Flag Thu Sep 20, 2012
They legally need to evict us. That takes us to 3 months. I know this from lawyers advice.
Flag Thu Sep 20, 2012
Thank you Scott A. Nelson, you seem to be the only one so far that knows what {s}he is talking about! I know that we do have many rights, if I'm not mistaken, I think we have MORE rights than the landlords since they knowingly rented us an illegal apartment and did not include ANY type of contract. I believe by them doing that, they threw a good chunk of their rights out the window...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 20, 2012
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