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Christopher R. Whittingham

Christopher Whittingham’s Answers

288 total


  • I withheld rent because my landlord failed to make repairs/code violations. Now evicting me, is my defense/counterclaim strong?

    I have a month to month lease. I've lived here 4 months and the landlord failed to make repairs and had several code violations, so I withheld rent. Now he is trying to evict me for non payment. I called the BOH to inspect and he was cited for lea...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Having a strong case on paper, which you appear to have, is one thing, being able to persuasively prove that case at trial is quite another. You should hire a lawyer. These cases can be very difficult for a pro se tenant to handle; the rules of evidence and procedure are complex. Plus, you have to be able to effectively tell your story. Chapter 239 Section 8a provides that a Board of Health inspection report creates a presumption that the landlord had knowledge of the defective condition. A copy of that inspection report certified under the pains and penalties of perjury by the inspector is admissible into evidence, and is prima facie evidence of the facts therein. https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleIII/Chapter239
    This website will provide useful information for you. http://www.masslegalhelp.org/important-legal-defenses-and-counterclaims. In addition, permitting an unagreed to extra tenant may give rise to a counterclaim for you for breach of quiet enjoyment pursuant to Chapter 186 section. 14. Regarding your case, presenting good testimony is the most effective tool, except for the certified Board of Health report. Good luck with your case. However, I must caution you that I have seen very few tenants present an effective and winning case. See a lawyer.

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  • How to write a counter claim Landlord trying to evict for non payment of rent I wrote my answer see below med.bills is 1349.47

    I Martina Marchand residing at 93 Laureston St. 3r Brockton. I have been a tenant here for 4yrs. I have never been late with my rent and have paid on time every month.. I am disabled and recognized by the ADA I can not lift, carry or ben...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You need lawyer to help you. These kind of cases can be quite difficult for a tenant. I have enclosed a website from Massachusetts Legal Services that will be helpful. http://www.masslegalhelp.org/housing/evictions. This websites explains counterclaims. http://www.masslegalhelp.org/important-legal-defenses-and-counterclaims
    I see that you are in Brockton, so you should contact South Coastal Counties Legal Services for help. this organization provides help to low income tenants.
    http://www.sccls.org
    Good luck with this problem. Try to get legal assistance.

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  • What can I do if I have a dispute with my roommate over a shared property?

    My roommate and I own a dishwasher together. I purchased the dishwasher from the store and he paid me his share. Our relationship went down over time and now I'm leaving the place and I'd like to take the dishwasher with me. He wants to buy it fro...

    Christopher’s Answer

    I suppose you could file a Small Claims against him for half the value of a used washing machine (which wouldn't be much, as the courts do not award replacement value, but rather the value of the item in used condition). But ask yourself; do you really want to spend your time and energy arguing over half the value of a used washing machine? I wouldn't. I would advise my client to try to work out a deal, and if that is not possible, then walk away. Good luck with this troublesome problem.

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  • I own a rental property in Massachusetts I sent a notice to quit for non payment of rent as of 9/13 can I enter on 9/14?

    my tenants have not paid me rent for 3 months I have tried to work with them due to the wife being ill but I can no longer "allow" them to live there for free as I am behind on my property taxes and insurance for said property due to them not payi...

    Christopher’s Answer

    No. Absolutely not. They will sue you if you do so. You have to serve and file a summary process (eviction) case against them in the District Court, which, for you I believe, is in the Barnstable Judicial Complex in Barnstable. Buy a summary process summons and complaint form from the Clerk. Have it served on the tenants by a constable or sheriff. Only a judge can authorize the eviction. Hire a lawyer. You need to treat this as the business that it is, otherwise you will get into trouble, and more importantly, not make any money, Investing in a lawyer up front is a good investment if you intend on continuing to rent property. Good luck with your busniness.

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  • Can landlords request discovery from tenants?

    Do landlords have a right to request discovery from tenants, or, perhaps more accurate, do tenants have an obligation to respond? If so is there a time limit for a tenant to respond and do the interrogatories have to have some relavance to the cas...

    Christopher’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Yes, and yes. Often the court will allow the landlord additional time within which to file discovery because the rules are set up assuming that only the tenant will file discovery, and therefore make all discovery due on the Answer date. That causes a problem for a landlord because he or she will not know whether discovery is required until the tenant files an answer, and so, after receiving an answer can request time to file discovery. Often a landlord will not do so because the issues are quite simple. I usually do not waste time in filing discovery on behalf of a landlord. The rules of discovery are broad, and a party may inquire as to anything that might lead to something of relevance. (can't recall the exact wording). Hope this answers your question. Good luck.

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  • Shared legal custody, parents cant agree on where to send child to school - what decides this?

    I have shared legal custody of the child and essentially equal parenting time (soon to be exactly 50/50). I live in an area with a highly rated school district, the mother lives in an area with a really poorly rated school district. I'm about...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Shared legal custody means that the parents are able to make decisions together on important life issue, such as education. Are you intending to seek modification of the shared legal custody? If you file a complaint for modification on this matter, you are basically telling the court that the shared legal custody is not working. Is it working in other areas of the child's life. If so, then you may want to seek mediation instead of involving the court. This is the website for the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. http://www.mcfm.org/ Also, in that the child in only three, the court may find it premature to rule on the matter. I would consult with or hire a lawyer on this complicated issue. Good luck.

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  • Could a tenant (theoretically) pay all rent due then use Chap. 239 Sec. 8A to stay in my house forever?

    I just read chapter 239 section 8a and it very clearly states that tenants will have 7 days after the trial to pay all rent owed and the owner will not recover possession. Does this mean even if they aren't awarded a judgement or abateme...

    Christopher’s Answer

    No. If the tenant fails to pay rent, you can serve the tenant with a fourteen day notice to quit and then file a summary process action. If this is a tenant at will, then you may serve the tenant with a thirty-day notice to quit (a full rental period), and thereafter file a summary process action. If the tenant in this present case used one of the rights listed in Chapter 239 section 2A, you may want to wait six months before serving the thirty day notice to quit, otherwise the tenant may claim retaliation under that statute. If so, then the landlord has the burden of proving the tenancy was terminated for reasons other than one of those listed in that statute. Here is the statute. https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleIII/Chapter239/Section2A
    But no, the tenant cannot remain forever. I would hire an experienced landlord tenant lawyer to help with this case. There are many such in Boston. Good luck with this frustrating problem.

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  • What punishment (if any) can I ask for if I file contempt against my ex-wife for breaking the divorce agreement?

    I am interested in filing contempt on my ex-wife for breaking our divorce agreement over and over (5 times now). What can I expect her punishment to be if she's found guilty? Last year I got behind on some child support and she filed con...

    Christopher’s Answer

    These types of questions are fact specific. It depends upon the nature of the breach, whether it was a serious breach, such as failure to pay child support, or a minor breach, such as dropping the children off at 6:00 pm, instead of 4:00 pm. There is no way to answer your question without knowing the facts in the case. Theoretically, there is a wide range of sanctions available, with jail being the most serious. If you are alleging minor charges which do not really harm your position then it is unlikely the judge would put her in jail. See a lawyer. Good luck with this.

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  • Does the Probate Court require an affidavit when filing a temporary order?

    I have filed a temporary order requesting permission to re-enroll my child back into the school he attended for a four year period due to the other party not in agreement with a school change. Never doing this type of filing and needing a quick ...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Yes. The Family court usually does not conduct evidentiary hearings on Temporary Order. Therefore, you need to place facts into evidence. The Affidavit will provide the judge with necessary facts in support of your motion. The Affidavit should be based upon first hand knowledge of the events. You should really hire a lawyer if this matter is important to you because these cases can become quite difficult. Good luck with this matter

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  • Getting married soon & my landlord doesn't like my fiancee.

    I'm a disabled Vietnam veteran, senior citizen in New Bedford,Ma. I'm engaged & ready to marry again for the 1st time in years. I want my fiancee to move in with me after we're married of course . I'm clean, very quiet & mind my own business. My f...

    Christopher’s Answer

    See an experienced landlord tenant lawyer. There are a number of potential issues here. Attorney Kelly is correct that the eviction process takes time and costs money, and your landlord may not pursue that. If you are a tenant at will, month to month tenant, the landlord must give you a written thirty day (one rental period) notice to quit, and after that expires, file a summary process (eviction) case against you in the Southeast Housing Court. In Court, you have the right to ask the judge for time to move, especially given your disability. If you have a lease, then review the terms of the lease to see whether another person is permitted in the apartment. If you have a lease in federal or state subsidized housing, then the housing authority has the right to apply its standard admission, or selection, policies to the new occupant. She may or may not be eligible. You should consult with a lawyer to know your best possible option here. Good luck.

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