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Ayanna Ormond McPhail

Ayanna McPhail’s Answers

67 total


  • Do at will tenants have to pay a full last month rent in Massachusetts?

    2 months from our move out date we gave our landlord ample warning that we would be moving out mid month. He agreed. His realtor listed the unit as available mid month, however as we got close to the date, the landlord told us that the pro-rated r...

    Ayanna’s Answer

    To terminate a tenancy at will you must provide 30 days or one rental period written notice. It seems like you have done that. The landlord may have also agreed to the partial rental period by depositing the rent check. So, there is a legal argument that you are not obligated to pay the remainder of the month's rent. If you move out and don't pay, there is always a chance that the landlord will bring a claim against you for the unpaid rent. If you did not provide written notice or there other facts which you have not included, then your landlord may win.

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  • Can my landlord disclose my disability status

    I've been renting a house for about 2 years now. My landlord has decided he wants to sell it and he found buyers. I'm 100% disabled, and apparently he told the people purchasing the house of my disability. They're now using that as a reason to wan...

    Ayanna’s Answer

    You are protected by Federal laws and Massachusetts General Laws chapter 151B from discrimination based on your disability. This would arguably cover any communication of your disability by the current owner to the prospective owner. It may also cover the conduct of the prospective owner toward you based on your handicap. Please note that if the house is owner-occupied the statutes may not apply.

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  • Tenant at will agreement

    I am a land lord, We have tenant at will agreement with our tenants. They are constantly late with rent, do I need a notice to quit, or just write them a notice to vacate in 30 days?

    Ayanna’s Answer

    I think in your circumstances a notice to quit and notice to vacate are the same thing. You need to provide 30 days notice and the 30 day period must end on a day that rent is due. Assuming rent is due on the first day of the month, notice given today would be effective for January 31, 2014 vacate date.

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  • Can I break my lease if I have a mouse infestation in my apartment?

    I recently discovered that there is a mouse infestation in my apartment. I visually saw one, and saw droppings. I emailed my landlord, and he just told me to set traps. Is this grounds to break my lease? He also has last months rent, security depo...

    Ayanna’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Call City Inspections/Inspectional Services, and they will notify your landlord of the infestation, and re-inspect to see if the landlord addresses the issue. You cannot, however, break your lease at this point. You should also ask for the immediate return of your pet deposit, since by statute, the only deposit a landlord may require to enter a lease is first month, last month and up to one month's rent as a security deposit.

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  • How do I open an escrow account to withhold rent? What are the step by step process for withholding rent?

    Reasons include: No heat in the apartment (since we moved in Aug 1. Heat is supposed to be included in our rent. My understanding is that heat is to be provided starting Sept 15. Our apartment is <60 degrees right now with a young child.) ...

    Ayanna’s Answer

    Prior to withholding your rent, you should call the local heath department to conduct an inspection, measure the temperature and notify the landlord of the defects that need to be fixed. You can also notify the landlord by sending her a letter, keeping a copy for yourself, by certified mail, return-receipt to the address where you mail your rent. This is the first step, you need to provide the landlord notice of the defect and allow a reasonable time to repair after the notice. The health department will re-inspect to see if the condition has been addressed, and will send another notice to the landlord. You can also send a second notice to the landlord in the same manner described above. The landlord should not take any action against you for calling the health department, because it is your right to do so under Massachsusetts law. Any action against you could be retaliation, and is, itself, illegal.

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  • Hi there, If I have been employed for 4 years without a contract, can my employer then put in place a contract

    My employer want to put a contract in place that stats I have to give them notice of leave but they do not need to give me any notice or reason for me leaving the comapny. Is this allowed and where do I stand with the unsigned contract they are t...

    Ayanna’s Answer

    Since you are an employee at will, your employer can change the terms of your employment without notice to you. Your employer may not by contract, or otherwise, change the terms to illegal terms. Employers commonly ask for the courtesy of notice, but as a legal matter, there is not much, if anything, they can do if an employee does not provided such notice. It is illegal to penalize an employee who does not give adequate notice by taking their accrued vacation time. In Massachusetts vacation pay is a form of wages and once earned, must be paid to you. As far as the company vehicle goes, it is unclear whether it would be considered wages. This would require some research and is beyond the scope of my answer.

    I think you are right that you are no longer a trusted employee, and may need to look elsewhere for employment.

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  • If I have requested a jury trial for an eviction....

    What is the purpose of the summary process? Will anything be decided at this? Will I need to pay any of the rent, at that time, that I have been witholding if the things the board of health sited her on have not been fixed?

    Ayanna’s Answer

    I agree. Summary Process moves quickly. If you have been served with a Summary Process Summons and Complaint you have a short period to file your Answer and Discovery Requests, among other things. These are important documents. There are a lot of online resources that can help you write them. If find it confusing then you will need to get assistance from an attorney. Some attorneys will represent you on a contingent fee basis becuase there are many laws that protect tenants and award them attorney's fees.

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  • Is it illegal for my employer to disclose my FMLA details to other employees?

    I do not have medical coverage through my employer, so am I correct in assuming this does not qualify as a HIPAA violation? I told none of my co-workers about my FMLA, and yet now most of the office knows the details. I have not been able to tra...

    Ayanna’s Answer

    It would be illegal for your employer or its supervisors to interfere with your FMLA request or restrain you from taking FMLA leave. It would be also illegal for your employer's supervisors to single you out, alienate you from other employees or otherwise create a hostile working environment based on any disability you might have or any disability that you are perceived to have. It really depends on the circumstances, which you have only roughly described. Both kinds of claims are subject to shorter statutes of limitatation so you should act promptly if you believe the conduct rises to a prohibited level.

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  • Mice in the appt. Boston, Maintenance don't care about it, any thing that I can do?

    Hi I am living in Boston MA, and there is a mice in my apartment, I called a maintenance but they dont care about it, and I can not live like this anymore. Is there anything that I can do in laws point of view?

    Ayanna’s Answer

    Inform your manager or landlord of the mouse infestation in writing, preferably mailing the letter certified mail return-receipt and keeping a copy for yourself. If that does not produce action, then call Inspectional Services for the City of Boston. A health inspector will inspect for infestation and if one is present will issue a citation to the manager. If the landlord or manager fails to address the infestation within a reasonable amount of time after they receive a citation, you may begin to withhold rent, provided that you have paid your rent in full until that time. You must deposit your rent in a bank account and notify your landlord (by certified mail, return-receipt keeping a copy of the letter for yourself) that you are withholding the rent, and the name and address of the rent. Otherwise you risk being evicted for non-payment of rent.

    Some patience is required for a rodent infestation, but you do not have to tolerate inaction.

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  • New tenant (9 days) - all of the checks bounced, we signed a lease. Do I have to follow the eviction process (it is MA)?

    Tenant has moved in 9 days ago (Oct 1), gave me 5 checks to cover 1st + last + sec deposit, we signed a lease. All 5 checks bounced, he is saying that his identity was stolen which I find hard to believe. This is MA, btw, since he has only been in...

    Ayanna’s Answer

    I agree that you should start this process right away since the tenant would have the right cure, that is pay in full and stay until the notice period expires.

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