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Landlord Tenant Law

If you are a landlord or tenant, and need legal assistance, please call us for a free initial consultation.  We handle all types of landlord-tenant issues, including evictions, disputes regarding rent and security deposits, and residential and commercial lease negotiation, drafting and review.

Representative Landlord/Tenant Law Matters:

  • Represented numerous landlords in eviction and collection actions against tenants.
  • Represented landlord/owner of single family residence in connection with claim by tenant for specific performance in lawsuit by tenant to force owner to sell home to tenant under a written agreement.  Negotiated favorable settlement whereby tenancy was terminated and owner retained his property.
  • Defended landlord in security deposit violation claim by former tenant where tenant caused substantial damage to property.
  • Represented landlord in connection with correction of City of Boston building department violations.
  • Negotiated leases on behalf of owner of commercial properties, including cell phone tower lease.
  • Defended tenants in summary process eviction actions.
  • Represented tenant at will in connection with unilateral rate increase by landlord and repair issues.  Negotiated status quo rent and repair of defective conditions.

Q&A (See Rhonda’s profile on Avvo.com):

Question: In 9/2008 I moved.  The apartment requires tenants to pay water and sewage. My first water bill arrived in 4/2010 is this legal?

The apartment complex located between Dedham and Walpole,Mass charges tenants for water and sewage. Upon my research Management did not charge me any water or sewage fees until 2010. I have researched further and the local town does not have a certificate on file for submetering. The apartments do have submeters I am quite confused and troubled by this situation.Please provide some clarity for me.

ANSWER:

In Massachusetts, a landlord may only charge a tenant for water usage pursuant to certain very specific requirements which, based upon the information you supplied, do not appear to have been met.

Under M.G.L. Ch. 186, §22, a landlord may charge a tenant for water usage only if the rental unit is separately metered and the landlord has submitted a certificate of compliance to the City or Town [§22(c)]; the tenant and tenancy are new [§22(d)]; the landlord has installed fully functional water conservation devices for all faucets, shower heads and bathrooms in the unit [§22 (e)]; and the tenant has signed a written rental agreement that clearly provides for such separate charge, and fully discloses in plain language the details of the water submetering and billing arrangement between landlord and tenant [§22(f)].

Moreover, each bill for submetered water usage must clearly show all charges and other relevant information, including current and immediately preceding submeter readings and dates, amount of water used since the last reading, the charge per unit of water, the total charge and payment due date [§22(f)].

It would therefore appear that these new charges are unlawful.

Question: Are Rental Brokerage Fee Disclosure Documents Binding in Massachusetts?

I am working with a real estate agent who showed me an apartment that I’m interested in before showing it I signed a rental agreement fee disclosure the real estate agent I am working with wants to charge a full fee incidentally I received a call from another real estate agent who I was working with prior and ironically he told me he wanted to show me the identical apartment that I had seen with the first real estate agent. I told him about the other real estate agent and how if it’s possible for him to do better on the fee. He told me he would only charge half. This is obviously more agreeable to me. My friend informed me that there may be an issue because of the document I signed working with a 1st agent he may be entitled to the fee anyway? Wondering what the rules are please advise.

ANSWER:

Based on the information you’ve provided, it sounds as though you entered into a finder’s fee agreement pursuant to which the agent agreed to help you find an apartment, and you agreed to pay the agent a fee for the agent’s assistance. Assuming the agent is a licensed real estate broker or salesperson, and that you and the agent signed a contract which includes the amount of the fee and date due, and your requirements for an apartment, then the agent is entitled to a fee. That said, only a licensed broker or salesperson can lawfully collect a finder’s fee (M.G.L. c. 112, § 87DDD).