While a Massachusetts landlord has a great many responsibilities towards his or her tenants, the landlord also has many rights that deserve to be protected. These rights include more than just the right to collect owed rent, but also the costs of damages and possibly contract breach damages when dealing with commercial entities.
When your rights as a landlord are negatively impacted by another's conduct, you can fight to protect those rights. At the Katz Law Group, we understand the issues that arise in these cases, and how to handle the complexities of landlord/tenant disputes.
Responding to Tenant Complaints
Part of the enforcement process is making sure to adequately handle all legitimate tenant complaints. When a tenant expresses an issue concerning the lease agreement or an issue with the property, it is important to effectively and efficiently handle the problem whenever possible.
Landlords have certain duties, such as the duty to repair, that must be followed. If the landlord does not meet the burdens imposed on him or her by law, it is substantially less likely that a court will enforce the landlord's rights when a tenant breaches the lease agreement. Make sure to have a system in place which allows you to make quick work of tenant complaints, so as to better protect your rights as a landlord in the future.
Enforcement of the Lease Terms
A Massachusetts landlord has the right to enforce the terms of the agreed-upon lease, so long as the terms are not illegal. When two parties negotiate terms of a lease, which is a contract, that agreement should be respected and both parties are obligated to follow the terms of the lease.
Not all terms are legal, so it is important to have an experienced attorney review your lease agreements before using them for tenancy relationships. With that advice in hand, you can confidently enforce the provisions of your agreements.
When your tenant decides the rules should not apply to him or her, there are methods to enforce the provisions of your rental agreement.
Commercial Lease Agreements
Commercial lease agreements are unique creatures in the law because while they can be handled through the eviction process, much like residential agreements, there are different aspects of contract law which may also apply, depending on the lease agreement itself.
When that is the case, and a separate cause of action for breach of contract exists because of a tenant's actions, it is important to have the right legal team that can pursue remedies on your behalf through all possible routes.
Landlord Rights for Breach of the Lease Agreement
A landlord can protect his or her rights through certain methods of recovery. Some of the most common methods are listed here, but experienced legal counsel has a large playbook ready to use to protect your rights, not all of which can be described here.
Early Termination of the Lease Agreement
This occurs when a tenant leaves or abandons the property early before the term of the tenancy was actually set to end. For example, if a tenant was supposed to leave in July but actually left in February, the landlord is allowed to pursue the amount of rent that would have been paid over those months.
Landlords have certain obligations to mitigate damages, such as by advertising the property to other prospective tenants. Failure to mitigate damages, or failure to at least attempt to mitigate in good faith, could result in the inability to collect the total rent that would have been owed. An experienced attorney can help you with the specifics.
Damage to the Property
When a tenant causes damage to your rental property, the tenant should be responsible for those damages. This could include damage to things such as:
- structural elements,
- appliances, and
- other property.
Evidence can be presented in court through the eviction process or separate action (depending on the tenant) so the landlord can recover the cost of repairs. Do not assume you are "stuck with the bill" simply because a tenant damaged the property.
Recovery of Back Rent
When a tenant fails to pay rent, whether, for one month or many, the landlord is entitled to that rent, referred to as "back rent." Make sure to keep good records of all missed payments, as well as the records of previously made payments. Well kept records are crucial to proving what you are owed. You and your attorney can fight to recover the money the tenant owes you for every missed payment.
Security Deposit - Use or Return
If at the outset of the tenancy relationship the landlord collected a security deposit and has followed all of the laws regarding the use of the money, the landlord can use that security deposit to pay for repairs or other damages that occur as a result of the tenant's breach of the lease agreement.
There are extremely strict requirements for how to handle, use, and return security deposits. Failure to follow them can not only mean you are unable to use the deposit but could subject the landlord to additional financial sanctions. However, with the help of an experienced attorney, you can confidently follow the law, and use security deposits when needed to significantly reduce the financial impact to you and your business.
Recovery of Eviction Costs
Certain costs are associated with a successful eviction, such as the landlord's duty to move and to store an evicted tenant's possession for multiple months. A landlord is allowed to sue for recovery of these costs, albeit with certain limitations your attorney can discuss with you.
Consult a Massachusetts Landlord Attorney
When a tenant breaches a lease or rental agreement, it is important that you as the landlord enforce your rights. Massachusetts law grants landlords different remedies including the right to evict a tenant, and with experienced legal help, you can effectively protect your rights.
At the Katz Law Group, we are highly experienced in the area of rental agreement enforcement and have the years of experience necessary to protect your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.