In tenant-friendly Massachusetts, landlord mistakes can be costly. Buying a residential property to rent to tenants can be a great investment and a minimal-effort way to earn income. However, landlords must be careful they don’t inadvertently break the law because nothing will deplete profits quicker than having to pay an attorney to clean up the mess made by a landlord who cuts corners or tries to go it alone. The old adage that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ readily applies to landlord-tenant law. It will cost a landlord far less to consult with a knowledgeable attorney at the earliest possible time in a tenancy than to try to fix problems created by a landlord after the fact:
• Lease agreements – using a generic lease which does not provide the protections the landlord thought it did (unnecessarily onerous notice clause for terminating the tenancy; unintended self-extending renewal clause)
• Utilities – making tenants improperly pay utilities (landlords cannot charge tenants for water unless the tenant agrees in writing, the water is separately metered and the landlord installs low-flow fixtures in the apartment)
• Security Deposits – violating Massachusetts’ security deposit law (landlords must deposit security deposit in an interest-bearing bank account, tell tenants which bank holds the security deposit and provide yearly statements).
Massachusetts is tenant-friendly and trouble will find landlords unaware of the multitude of landlord-tenant laws out there or who think these laws do not apply to them because ‘I’m not really a landlord because I only rent out one apartment’.
Conlon Law helps landlords by drafting tight leases, advising landlords on compliance and representing landlords in housing or district court. Conlon Law charges flat fees for most of our services, including reviewing existing leases, drafting new leases, advising landlords on a specific issue and handling evictions from beginning to end. Conlon Law also offers ‘Limited Assistance Representation’ for landlords who have a solid knowledge of landlord-tenant regulations and procedures and who only need an attorney to represent them for specific tasks such as drafting a Notice to Quit, appearing in court on a motion or requesting that an Execution issue. Call Conlon Law – we can help.