Skip to main content
A Joseph Ross

A Ross’s Answers

6 total

  • Four days after I sent my withholding rent letter to my landlord,I received an eviction letter.What is my best course of action?

    My building failed inspection for multiple choice violations and several of which are on my floor. This is a rooming house that I have lived in for over three months, so I am a tenant at will. I informed the building manager of the problems in Dec...

    A’s Answer

    As others have told you, you have the right to withhold rent and to complain to the Board of Health. When the landlord sues for eviction, after the notice to quit expires, you can counterclaim for money damages. Moving may be a good idea in the long run, but if you win this eviction case and win damages against your landlord, you'll be able to move when it's most convenient for you.
    It's good that you're putting the withheld rent away because when I represent tenants withholding rent, I always ask them to pay it into an escrow account which I hold. It's amazing how much that increases your credibility with the court. All of a sudden, it's a conditions case, not a deadbeat tenant case.

    See question 
  • My possesions were destroyed by a leaking roof in my apartment from a leak my Landlord was told of months prior. BOSTON

    Several months ago I noticed a leak in my apartment. I immediately contacted my Landlord who said he would address it right away. The leak appeared to have stopped until yesterday following a severe storm. My apartment was flooded and my possesion...

    A’s Answer

    As the others have said, document your damage well. It would also help to have some documentation of your complaints. Were any of your communications with the landlord in writing? This includes e-mail as well as a paper writing, as long as you have the e-mail archived. You may need this if the landlord denies you ever told him anything.

    I wouldn't do small claims. You get a court clerk, rather than a judge, and the clerk may not be a lawyer. And you can't appeal an adverse decision, but the defendant can. This should be a regular lawsuit with the help of a lawyer.

    You should get Boston Inspectional Services to inspect the building, including the roof, and issue an order to the landlord to repair all code violations. You may need to be persistent on this.

    This is called a breach of warranty of habitability, and it may also be an interference with your quiet enjoyment of the apartment. The damages can be a lot more than just the value of the lost property. It also is likely to be a violation of the consumer protection laws, allowing you to collect double or triple damages, plus attorneys fees. You should see a lawyer who is familiar with landlord-tenant law to help you with this.

    See question 
  • Can I sue my landlord for my rent back?

    I moved in here 2.5 months ago and I have only had constant issues with my neighbor. The second night here we woke to police department searching the entire building for them. The police and fire department have been here, they play music all time...

    A’s Answer

    It sounds like you may have good grounds to break the lease and move out. Among other things, it's likely a violation of consumer protection laws for the landlord not to have informed you about this problem neighbor before you agreed to rent the property. It may also be an unfair and deceptive act for the landlord to call the police and say it's you calling. Is the neighbor a tenant of the same landlord? If so, I wonder why the landlord hasn't tried to evict the neighbor.

    Bottom line, you may be entitled to move out, withhold rent, and sue the landlord for damages. You should have an attorney, who can go into all of the details of your situation, advise you.

    See question 
  • Can a landlord use the excuse of 'family issues' to justify not returning a security deposit for over 60 days?

    I moved out at the end of August and my landlady stopped communicating with me in the middle of september regarding my deposit. I made numerous calls, sent emails(our primary form of communication) and sent a certified letter via mail which she si...

    A’s Answer

    I agree, there is NO excuse for not returning the deposit or a statement of damages within 30 days. You should hire a lawyer and pursue this as a regular lawsuit, not a small claim. If you file small claims, you don't get a judge, you get a clerk-magistrate, who may or may not be a lawyer, and you lose the right to appeal, but the landlady can still appeal. And don't think the clerk-magistrate doesn't know it. Filing a regular civil action may cost more in filing fees and may take longer, but it's worth it, and you get to recover attorneys fees as well.

    See question 
  • Can I sue for incident damages(travel,parking etc) along with suing for security deposit return?

    My previous landlady was informed via email on 09/18 of my new address and on 10/04 via certified mail with a 30 day notice to return my security deposit. She suddenly cut off communication mid September and refuses to pick up my calls. I plan on ...

    A’s Answer

    I agree with Attorney Hammerlund on this. Most of these cases do indeed get dealt with without a court appearance by the client if there is a lawyer in the case. But in those infrequent cases where you do have to appear, you are unlikely to get travel or parking costs or anything other than treble damages and court costs, including attorneys fees.

    On the other hand, you'll be getting three times the security deposit you are entitled to, with all other costs paid. That should be enough to compensate you for those extra costs.

    See question 
  • How do I write a letter to my landlord having paid partial water bill and give him the remaining rent owed?

    The landlord refused to pay the water bill because he is attempting to get me out in order to renovate. I had to pay to keep it on and now I have to send certified mail with receipt and remaining rent. I want to make sure that the letter is an a...

    A’s Answer

    Write the letter as factual as possible, detailing the fact that you had to pay the water bill in order to keep the water on, include the amount of the bill, and tell him that you are deducting that amount from the rent. Then send him a check for the balance, or if the amount that you paid is more than one month's rent, give him the calculations and tell him when and how much rent he will receive in the future. Write on the bottom of the letter that it's being sent certified mail, return receipt requested. If possible, get the forms in advance from the post office, so that you can put the actual certified mail number on the letter. Keep a copy of the letter. I prefer paper copies, but if you want to keep an electronic copy, make sure that it has a hard date on it (not whatever date it is when you open the file) and back it up, so that you won't lose it in case of a computer failure.

    You may have other claims, as other attorneys answering have suggested. You should talk to a lawyer who can review all of the history of the case, your lease, and whatever other information you can provide. I'll be happy to talk with you.

    See question