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My tenant has been living in my house (2 family, owner

My tenant has been...

My tenant has been living in my house (2 family, owner occupied) for the past 3 possibly 4 yrs now. He has informed me by sending a letter under my door that he has had the apt /house inspected by the city claiming his electric bills have been $400 for a 1BR apt . He has called Eversource who apparently also came to the house . He alleges "they" ,I don't know who found possible cross wiring .I find this to be ridiculous as my wiring and the electric boxes and meters are all new and were inspected by the city in 2016afte the Arctic Blast we had that year . I have not had electrical work done since . He has his own box for his apt as far as I understand . The problems during the arctic blast were result of tenant leaving for the weekend to check on his cape property and shutting my heat off before he left . Regardless, the pipes burst all the way up to the 2nd floor requiring all new piping and electrical wiring to be redone as it flooded into elec boxes . Thousands of dollars in repairs , still needing repairs to my apt BR . The point being he has been here for years , rented the apt in the condition it is in which is pretty good . It was all newly redone , new BR , new kitchen , completely repainted , after last tenant left owing for months and trashing apt . The house is old grtr than 100yrs old it is close to water in So Boston it is very drafty and cold in wind or cold winter days in the front rooms which are across from n open park . Tenant off and on has complained about window sticking and I have had it repaired each time . One time I closed the window myself . I am 60yrs young. This year when he again complained about drafts and his bill being high I suggested he use plastic or do whatever he thought might help and he could deduct it from rent. Also mice traps or whatever as he said he saw a mouse in apt . This does not surprise me as there is construction on all sides of my house at this time since the summer . I told him I could not afford to replase windows now as I was going through a major life changing problem and could not afford it . I told him if the bills were too high and he had to move I would understand . He did deduct for a few traps but never bothered to do anything about the window , never got plastic . I have seen him on several occasions had conversations with him and even been it apt . He had no complaints and did not seem bothered by the mouse saying he caught 1and hasn't had one since . We have had several conversations no problems voice until Feb 28 . His rent is due on the 1st which he is not withholding . stating he can prove he has it in his letter and he would put it in a bank account . He also suggested I cooperate with the inspector . also mentioned something about hoping there would be no retaliation . Obviously he has been planning this. It seems funny to me he did not complain after the 1st high bill or notify me of his calling eversource and what they told him . I am hoping you can advise me as to what right I have as a landlord . I have done a bit of research . Right to decent place to live and gone over codes and an article on evictions . From what I'm reading he basically can stay forever and I would be unable to evict with out him claiming retaliation . I am also wondering if he may be leading up to counter claim I hopes to have me pay his electric bills . All in all I find this very unfair . I also read that "bad conditions " if present when you moved in are assumed to be known by landlord by the law . Can he force me to get new windows just because they are old . I honestly feel he is flipping out about his bills and looking for a way to get out of his responsibilities . He is constantly late with rent which I have tolerated , he ruined my house and I have made every attempt to fix whatever complaints he has had , other than buying new windows . I always have made repairs and his rent has been very low compared to other 1BR apts in neighborhood as I knew elec heat is expensive . I

Lawyer's Assistant: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

So Boston , MA . I am landlord and have questions about my rights which it seems I have none in MA .

Lawyer's Assistant: Has any paperwork been filed?

No, I had the housing inspector here on the 28th of Feb and slipped a note under my door . I do not think anything is filed .

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

He is alleging cross wiring which is false nd ineffective windows drafty . He states he contacted the elec co, states his bill has been excessive for the size of the apt according to elec co . He has complained off and on about drafts , the house is old on the water and is very drafty in fron of house . He has been here for years and I have told him I could not afford new windows . Minor repairs were made for him the windows work but are old . I suggested he put up plastic and deduct $ from rent . He is also now alleging infestation . He had mentioned he saw a mouse during same conversation I told him pls get whatever you need and deduct from rent . I informed him I was going through major problem at the time and could not deal with it if he could do what ever and deduct it . I also mentioned to him in another conversation I knew the electric was expensive and I would understand if he hd to leave . He is a tenant at will and has been for years . I have kept his rent low as he also agreed when I did finally rise it about a year ago . It is still as he said a bargain compared to other apt in area . My problem is that he did not inform me of worsening conditions if things were worse he just called inspectional services and slipped a letter he wrote with complaints under my door after them being here. He rented the apt with the windows in the condition they are now in , no discussion or concerns were made then . It seems he is finding his financial responsibilities too muchand is looking for a reason not to pay . Of interest , All of the plumbing and all electrical wiring and boxes were replaced after this tenant left for the weekend shutting the heat off when we were getting an ARCTIC FREEZE in 2016. Everything was replased and checked by the city elec inspector before boxes were put in . So I find it hard to believe there is cross wiring . He also suggested to me that I cooperate with inspection on the 8th when he returns and hopes there will be no retaliation . I am thinking he is trying to get me to pay all his elec bills . He has held his rent . I was actually surprised to find a letter thinking it was his rent as he is always late which I have put up with . I am currently unemployed since Nov unexpectedly at age 60 . This is the last thing I need ....TY for listening . what can I expect

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call.
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I have misplaced the letter with his complaints and texted him asking he send me another copy which he has not done . He also has not left a key for me to get in during this storm if there were to be a problem while he is away . He states he would be there. Can I insist he give me a key for emergencies ? I have several texts of conversations over time nothing I ca send you . What should I be doing ?
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
what service offer ? is anyone looking at these ? when can I expect a response ?
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
will I need to go to court ? will I need to bring a lawyer ? I have been thinking of selling before this happened , part of reason holding off on major repairs before loosing my job . How will this effect my ability to see or value of the property?
Answered in 1 day by:
3/9/2018
LegalDan
LegalDan, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 683
Experience: Partner at McCollum Hodgkinson, P.C.
Verified

Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help today - What type of lease agreement do you have with this tenant?

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
He is a tenant at will.
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
He has been tenant at will for years now . His lease exp prob 4 years ago . He is also living with ? girlfriend whom was not on the original lease . The damage to my apt occurred after lease expired
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I had some one go to his apt today to check to see what could be done , possibly storm windows . Tenant said city inspector found possible crossed wires and will be sending me a letter .
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
if you give me your text # I could send you the letter tenant today gave me with his allegations

If he is a tenant at will with a person who is not authorized to live there - at the next late payment I would give him written notice of eviction and start the process. He does not have legal authority to remain on the property.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
He is refusing to pay rent until repairs are made and im assuming until after the City has cleared it of violations . Im not sure of the process .What is it ? He did mention retaliation in his letter . Im thinking he is threatening me if I were to raise rent or do anything he does not want he will claim retaliation . How long until I can do those things with out him claiming retaliation ? Also he thinks he may be due compensatiion for the heating problems. This would be so much easier via phone . If I were to do that does that mean $59 on top of the 45 I've already agreed to? Could you tell me what your exp level is how many yrs with real estate law ?

To answer your questions directly. The tenant could try to bring you to small claims court but he does not have a legal right to be on the property. Especially as he is defying the original lease agreement by having a GF on the premises. You would not need an attorney, but obviously I would always advise that you have one present to help. The property value would not be impacted by evicting your tenant.

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Also, I would not worry about any "retaliation" as you are the property owner and have every right to a tenant who pays rent and follows the law. Beginning the eviction process is not retaliation, its well within your rights. Give him formal notice of eviction and he has 30 days to leave the property. It has to be in writing. I have never heard of a court considering any claim of retaliation.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Did you get my original letter explaining what has been going on . Having him leave would be great but right now Im conserned about the allegations he has made rt the condition of apt to housing authority and there allegations of cross wiring and ? rodent infestation . I dont think I can think of evicting him right now can I? Can he sue me counter claim for his electric bills ?
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
You are obviously not from Massachusetts were everything is in the tenants favor . Can you pls check MA housing laws Im really very nervous about this . I have never had problems like this before but from what I have read he basically owns this house and can call all the shots now . Can you pls guide me to as what I can /should be doing .
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Also there is no mention of her on the lease , her name is ***** ***** it . So i am assuming she should only be allowed to visit not live here and ger her mail here .

Yes, tenants have a great deal of rights. However, the tenant has to give you a written notice of the violations, must be under a valid lease agreement, and give you adequate time to make the repairs.

A valid rent withholding notice requires that:

  1. The tenants informed the landlord in writing of the requested repair;
  2. The tenants informed the landlord of the intent to withhold rent; and
  3. The written notice is delivered to the landlord before the tenant withholds rent.

The last requirement is a valid eviction defense if the landlord commences summary process against the tenants after they withhold rent and give written notice.

However - In cases where the landlord was not given written notice, tenants may still be able to claim their withholding as a defense because the landlord has had “Constructive Notice.” Constructive Notice is when a landlord knew or should have known of the bad conditions in the apartment, failed to make repairs, and commence summary process against the tenant as a result of the tenant’s refusal to pay rent. In Boston Housing Authority. v. Hemingway, 379 Mass. 196 (1979), the Housing Authority commences an eviction action against the tenants for failure to pay rent. The residents argued that they were entitled to withhold rent because their apartment was in uninhabitable condition since the inception of the lease and the landlord had constructive notice of said condition.

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The law on the side of the tenants only applies when the correct paths have been followed. That is not the case here.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Dan, He gave me a written letter of complaints 3 days before rent due , slipped it under my door. In the past he has made complaints via email about drafts from windows and his high elec bills . I have had someone look at and repair his window in the past , the same person I had go down there today . My issue is he rented apt in that condition has not been overly concerned about it for years until his high bills this year . I made suggestions to improve the drafts and gave him permission to deduct any cost from rent which he seemed ok with until now . The house is over 100 yrs old by the water what does he expect . His rent is a bargin as he himself admits compared to others . That is intentional on my part as I know it is cold and difficult to heat . so if I am made to make al these repairs I can raise rent without being accused of retaliation ? Can he make counter claims after eviction ?
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
How can you claim it is uninhabitable if you continue to live there . He is driving around in a volvo , making frequent skii trips and owns property on the cape he can afford to not be here .
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
i also live in this house on the 2nd and 3rd flr which get a much stronger hit from wind .
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
pls list step by step what I need to do . Do I need to make all, repairs sited before I
1, raise rent
2 try to evict
3 evict his GF
At what point , time do I do these things , time frame pls
what is the process to evict ?
How long can he claim compesary benefits , counter claim from me ?
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Also isnt the elec co or the city responsible if there has been no elc work since the inspection by the city when meter boxes were put in after damage to my property from tenents neglect ? I would think the elec co should have contacted me if they suspected problems with meters
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
who is responsible for meters? possibly they are malfunctioning ?

Okay - the general rule is that you can not evict or raise rent for 6 months after being notified. If you want to be 100% complaint with him you would need to fix the repairs, then raise rent/evict. The city is responsible for the meter boxes. He can counter claim at anytime as that is just a filing with the court.

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You can evict the GF immediately and you can do that via written notice.

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I also want to reiterate the point that he does not have a valid lease and it is my belief that you could call the police and have him removed for trespassing. But, if you do not want to go down the road of police and lawyers, you can for sure being 100% compliant by following the steps mentioned above.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I could evict him tonight dt him being a tenant at will. So if he has no right to be here why is he able to counter sue in rt issues with my house

I would call the police and say that he is trespassing on your property - a valid eviction begins with written notice. He can claim anything he wants with the city inspectors etc - they do not require a lease to inspect the premises.

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I have given you all the information I have concerning your questions. If you would like me to opt out of this thread I will do that - There is no more information that I am aware of that I haven't given you.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
He could counter claim a year or 2 from now? Is it 6 mo after being notified from city inspector or the note he slipped under my door before I can raise rent or evict .How soon can i start process? If city resp for meter why was I not told of problems and why is tenant bothering me with this now .

It is six months from the time you got the note - He can counterclaim only when you raise the rent/evict. The last issue you would have to bring up with the city - or if they gave you the all clear then you need to give that to an inspector.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
your saying I can never raise rent ? other than never raising rent and letting him stay forever how do I avoid counter claim

Just because they would counter claim doesn't mean you are wrong. You can raise rent/evict after 6 months. You do not need to be scared of a counter claim

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
what do you mean opt out ? your giving up on me !! I just need step by step instructions pls . I waited all day for you , concerned this was a scam and My bank account was being drained while I waitied for your advertised "immediate responses " Lol, you cant give up that quickly .
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
come on LegalDan give a girl a break !!

I have been talking for 2 hours. I have told you every single option and a step by step on how to accomplish each option. First option - call police and have him removed for trespassing, if police won't remove him - remove the girlfriend and give him written notice of eviction with 30 days to leave.

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Second option - get in writing that wiring is good from inspector who just came out to the house. Fix any other issues he listed on the letter he gave you. Then raise the rent/evict after 6 months from the day you received the letter.

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Even under option two you can evict the GF immediately, no written notice required.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Thank you for being so patient . so the last question I have is for you to tell me how long of a period there is before he cnnot counter claim . I feel like he owns me now. Haha , that will bring the bill to 2 hours LegalDan. How old are you . Your pic looks like high school . Have you actually passed the bar yet ? i bet you still get carded

I have been practicing for over 10 years - I appreciate being told I look young. When you say counter claim what exactly do you mean? File an action against you? He can do that anything you raise rent/evict. But that doesn't mean he will win his claim. Do not feel like he owns you.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Counter claim as possibly sue me for his past elec bills before repairs .
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
your saying he could refuse to leave as a counter claim or pay inc in rent ? I know its late . Its taking me awhile to wrap my head around all this

DO NOT WORRY ABOUT COUNTER CLAIM - he can not legally do that if all the repairs are made.

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you will not be responsible for any past bills - especially if the inspector cleared the meters.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
What if I raise rent before 6mo he can legally not pay it ? I also read if goes to court they could award him $$back from past rent paid . Possibly portion of the rent . So basically I need to get a lawyer , right . What does a lawyer cost to go to court for things like this ball park . im assuming there is no such thing as pro bono or suing him for pin and suffering maybe ???Emotional abuse ??

These are now additional questions - 1. no, once you fix all repairs you can raise rent. 2. you will most likely win at court, if they award him back rent the MOST they can award is 3 months. 3. small claims civil lawyer will cost 1000$ +

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It would be difficult to get pain and suffering.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Am I being charged xtra now its 11 min past 2 hours ,Lol. Thank you for your help. I appreciate your patience ..

you're very welcome - please rate my answer with 5 stars

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
How long was this service for can I call back after I get my letter from the inspector ? Im in no position to get lawyer , can I retain you for service with me fee pd

This service is for 1 question - you can personally request me from now on anytime you like

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Please rate my answer with five stars. Please message me if you have additional questions.

LegalDan
LegalDan, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 683
Experience: Partner at McCollum Hodgkinson, P.C.
Verified
LegalDan and 87 other Landlord-Tenant Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
What !!! I hope your not billing me more than my original $45. ....Thx for your help , be careful i may just message you again .sorry cant afford another $59...TY again , good night

Nope - all of this has been under one question - I am happy to help! Good luck!

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The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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