I hear this a lot from my Landlord clients. “Massachusetts is a Tenant State.” Or “the laws favor Tenants. Or “Landlords are at the mercy of the tenants.” In reality, while this idea can be true, it doesn’t need to be. Landlords do not need to be fighting an uphill battle.
In Massachusetts, the laws attempt to balance the potential for unfairness against. Many laws are applied strictly. Be it security deposit, utilities, discrimination, retaliation, or even procedural rules the courts apply, it may seem the laws exist solely to keep the tenants in an apartment rent-free. The uninitiated or unwary become shocked and jaded by a system unfairly created to punish a landlord financially that is already owed substantial sums.
Yet it is circumstances which landlords control which gives landlords the advantage. Landlords draft the leases. Landlords elect the terms and conditions of the agreement. Landlords generally keep records where, Tenants almost never do. More often then not Landlords have the advantage, because (1)they have the records and the Tenant does not, (2) landlord choose the battlefield: the ability to decide when to take action when conditions are most favorable to them.
Frequently, tenants claim they paid the rent, inhabitable conditions exist in the unit or that the landlord is retaliating against them. Yet, tenants rarely have the photographs, correspondence, records from the board of health, or records of rent they paid. Without records they have no case.
Where landlords get into trouble is when they do not keep proper records. Problems often arises when a landlord does have an applicant sign an application and check the credit report or fails to execute the property lease documents prior to the tenant taking possession. Other problems arise when Landlords do not keep rent ledgers, records of maintenance, or correspond in writing or through e-mail.
The law may protect tenants, but the Landlord chooses the terrain for battle. By keeping proper and disciplined records, Landlords can hold the high ground.
Make sure you are keeping the right records, call the Attorneys at LALLIER|MUNROE, P.C. today at (978) 388-1100. We are here. We can help.