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Renter's Rights: When Landlord Refuses to Make Repairs

In light of the recent flooding in Massachusetts, I felt it was high time to discuss the issue of repairs.

Boston real estate lawyers know the rules regarding repairs of rental property. But this blog doesn't always speak to the Massachusetts real estate attorney.

It most often speaks to the average Joe or Jane.

So let's look at the issue of repairs.

Imagine that you rent a home. It rains for forty days and forty nights and then, you are left with a flooded basement. (And, perhaps a house full of animals, two of each kind.)

What are the rules regarding maintenance of property? Here's the big rule: warranty of habitability.

Come again?

Here's the Cliff's Notes version (or rather, the FindLaw version): Landlords have a responsibility to their tenants to maintain the home in a habitable condition. As a result, they have the duty to repair any defects which would render the house in unsafe or unsanitary condition.

The house must be suitable for human habitation.

Now, what do you do if your landlord refuses to make repairs?

There are many things a tenant can do.

But before you do any of these things, it's wise to speak with a knowledgeable Boston real estate attorney.

You might be able to withhold your rent payments. Notice that I said "might". Each situation brings its own facts and circumstances to the table. So don't take anything on this blog as legal advice-- it's not. See a Massachusetts real estate lawyer if you want legal advice.

You may also be able to do the repairs yourself, and deduct the cost from your rent. This is under certain circumstances and conditions. It's not as easy as doing it all on your own initiative. Once again, speak with a Boston real estate lawyer if you plan to repair-and-deduct.

It may be wise to contact the Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Department of the Massachusetts Government. But they might also advise you to speak to a Boston real estate lawyer.

Have a look at our related resources for more information.

Related Resources