Landlord Tenant

Practice Area

Many of our clients are renters or own residential properties with tenants. Both tenants and landlords have certain rights but also owe obligations toward each other. Unfortunately, there are times when issues arise that threaten the landlord-tenant relationship. Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, we have the knowledge and experience you need to ensure your rights are protected and that all laws and ordinances are being followed. Snook Law can also draft a landlord/tenant agreement that is tailored to your particular property.

Tenant Rights

A landlord can only offer you a residence that fits minimum standards for occupancy. This includes lighting, electricity, and hot water, and is in a hazard-free condition. Anti-discrimination law bar landlords from refusing to rent to you because of:

National origin
Sexual preference

Military background
Marital status
Possession of a guide dog
You receive public rental assistance

Only under some circumstances can a landlord refuse to rent to you because you have children.

As a tenant, you do have obligations, including:

Keeping the premises in a sanitary manner and not damaging it or creating hazards
Not engaging in unlawful conduct such as dealing drugs or other illicit activities
Not disturbing the property or enjoyment of other tenants
Returning the premises in essentially the same condition as when you signed the lease

If there are material repairs to be done or violations that affect your health or safety, you may refuse to pay the rent if:

You notified your landlord of the necessary repairs and were ignored
A Board of Health inspection found violations and notified your landlord
You are up to date with the rent, and the code violations or unsanitary conditions are not your fault
You can make the repairs and deduct what rent you owe under certain conditions that we can discuss with you.

Landlord Rights and Obligations

As landlord you must provide a residence that is safe and meets certain minimum standards. State law mandates that landlords remove snow and ice from the premises following a storm within a certain period of time. Local ordinances may require snow and ice removal from a public sidewalk that abuts the leased property.

Your right to enter a leased unit is limited and you may do so only after arranging with your tenant to inspect the unit, undertake repairs, or to show the premises to prospective tenants, potential buyers or health or property inspectors. You can also enter the unit within the last 30-days of the tenancy to determine damages and costs to repair but give notice before doing so.

You are required to provide your tenants within 10-days of occupancy a check-in list of the unit’s current condition to minimize any dispute over whether damage to the unit existed before or during the tenancy.


Evictions are sometimes necessary and can be emotional if not expensive for all parties. A landlord can terminate a lease if the tenant neglects to pay the rent, causes significant damage, engages in illicit or illegal conduct or otherwise materially violates a lease provision.

Various notices can be given depending on the nature of the lease violation. If the landlord issues the wrong type of notice, it will only delay the procedure. Massachusetts law prohibits retaliatory evictions such as the landlord changing locks or shutting off utilities or any other practice not authorized by court order or public policy.

Retain a Landlord/Tenant Lawyer from Snook Law

A Massachusetts lease agreement must adhere to all state laws and local ordinances. If you do not know your rights and duties, you could end up losing your rental unit and owing substantial expenses. Landlords can be fined significant sums for violating a tenant’s rights.

Schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable landlord/tenant attorney from Snook Law if you have any questions or concerns regarding your rights and obligations, whether you are a tenant or a landlord, and learn what we can do to assist you.