A lease is ordinarily for a specific period of time. Tenants without a lease are typically called “tenants at will” or “month-to-month tenants.” Even tenancies at will can be reduced to writing however, and it is advisable to do so, especially from the landlord’s perspective. The reasons therefore include a greater likelihood of complying with the security deposit laws, a clear establishment of the tenancy’s terms, including snow removal, and that it is required if you want to charge the tenants for any utilities. A written lease or tenancy agreement can also reduce the risk of future litigation between the parties.
Landlord and tenant litigation comprises a significant portion of the lawsuits currently pending in the Massachusetts trial courts. Many, if not most of these lawsuits are called “Summary Process Actions.” Summary Process Actions are a special form of litigation that have separate court rules and time frames. They are commonly known as eviction proceedings. As the phrase “summary process” implies, these cases are fast tracked through the courts for expedited trials compared to your routine litigation matter.
The key component of Eviction Proceedings / Summary Process Actions is that the legal right to possession of an apartment or other rental unit (including commercial units) is at issue. In cases where possession of a rental unit is not in dispute, summery process is not appropriate. Rather, the complaining party should file a normal lawsuit that follows the rules of civil procedure. When summary process is warranted however, other claims, such as for unpaid rent, or that deal with some counterclaims of the tenant, can be tried as well. Common types of permissible counterclaims deal with security deposit violations, breaches of the covenant of quiet enjoyment or the warranty of habitability, deplorable apartment conditions, retaliatory evictions, and violations of the consumer protection statutes.
Whether you are a landlord who needs to evict a tenant or collect unpaid rent or damages, or a tenant who needs help defending an eviction action or prosecuting claims against a landlord relative to your tenancy, our experienced lawyers can help. Our landlord and tenant attorneys represent both landlords and tenants at all stages of the landlord-tenant relationship, from negotiating and drafting leases through trial when a dispute arises that cannot be settled. Let our lawyers use our vast knowledge and experience to assist you today.
Please contact the attorneys at LaFountain & Wollman, P.C. at 617-926-8944 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free half hour consultation with one of our experienced landlord/tenant lawyers.