Real Estate Law
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Hi - my name is ***** ***** I'll be glad to assist.
Before you broke your lease, did you send the landlord a letter identifying the issues and claiming that it was in breach of the lease terms and demanding that these issues be repaired?
Not putting the complaint in writing makes things difficult because the landlord isn't likely to admit you complained about a breach of the lease and they failed to remedy it.
That said, the only way to break a lease without penalty is IF the landlord breaks a condition of the lease (and you can prove the breach) or if you go active duty in the military, are a victim of domestic violence, the apartment violates Mass. health or safety codes or if the landlord has harassed you or violated your privacy rights. Here's a good link you can read: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tenants-right-break-rental-lease-massachusetts.html
If you can't prove a breach or a violation of one of these things, then it is likely that the penalty for breaking the lease would stand. You certainly can refuse to pay and see if the landlord sues....and if he does, you can put on your proof of the conditions in the property and the reasons you left....and let the judge decide the issue.
The cleanliness issue would hinge on whether the condition would affect the health and safety rules for Mass. or any local regulations.
The animal issue would hinge on whether or not the lease allowed animals or not...if not, then the landlord would be in breach of the agreement and you could claim a cancellation based on that breach.
You certainly could also claim that you were harassed and had to vacate due to that, but you'll need proof (preferably documentation) to support that.
At this point, the only thing you could do is file a small claims case against the landlord, claim these issues as the reason for your CANCELING (not breaking) the lease due to the landlord's BREACH and ask the court to order the landlord to return this assessment paid to you.
Please let me know if you need anything further. Also, please take time to positively rate our conversation so I may receive credit for assisting. Thanks again!