Massachusetts law is particularly tough on landlords. The security deposit statute is very difficult to comply with and seemingly innocent mistakes can result in triple damages plus attorney’s fees for a tenant. There are numerous Attorney General regulations regarding what language a landlord must include in a lease and what language is prohibited. There are serious consequences for failing to comply with the Lead Paint Statute, and the State Sanitary Code provides extensive requirements for the condition in which a rental unit must be maintained.
Evictions cases can be hard to bring and, if a landlord isn’t nearly perfect going into a trial, very difficult to win. This is because of G.L. c. 239 s. 8A, which essentially states that if an eviction case is a no-fault case (meaning it does not allege a violation of a lease term and is instead an eviction for no reason or for non-payment) then a tenant is allowed to bring any relevant counterclaims and if they win any money as a result of those counterclaims, they may be able to win possession at trial and stay in their home. Because of this difficult statute, it is important for a landlord to follow the law as closely as possible so to avoid the situation of facing a tenant with even a minor counterclaim that could defeat the landlord’s claim for possession.
Therefore, a relatively small investment in getting everything right at the outset can make a big difference in mitigating future liability and winning an eviction case in the (hopefully) unlikely event you find yourself in court. Give us a call and we’d be happy to review your lease, make sure you are providing the proper deposit receipts and lead paint disclosure, draft a lease if necessary, make sure your utility meters are properly set up, and answer any questions about what you, as a landlord, can and cannot do under Massachusetts Law.