Skip to main content
Christopher R. Whittingham

Christopher Whittingham’s Answers

270 total


  • My husband and I reside in MA and are divorcing I want to live in our CA home, do I need a divorce attorney or real estate atty?

    We are living apart in MA, neither wants to get divorced, or sign anything that is finite. We both want to case to continue, but not sure if this will be allowed by the judge. Our goal was for me to live in our (both our names on the deed) CA home...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You should consult a Massachusetts divorce lawyer right away. You don't say what your agreement is with your husband regarding the the CA property. Nevertheless, it is part of the Massachusetts marital estate, and would be including in the Massachusetts divorce proceeding. Good luck.

    See question 
  • How much notice do I have to give a tenant that has a disabled child ?

    I just bought my 1st house, i was told prior to my closing if i can allow one of the tenants to stay a little longer, she was having trouble finding a place. I agreed, it turns out that the tenant was never planning to move, she told me i had to b...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You would give the tenant the same notice as you would with any other tenant. You can evict the tenant, if there is no lease, for no reason, but not an illegal reason, such as her disabled child. Here is some useful information put our by the Mass Bar Assoc. http://www.massbar.org/publications/lawyers-journal/2012/june/mastering-the-notice-to-quit-in-massachusetts-young-lawyer-practi
    The issue for you is that the state law gives the Court the authority to allow a tenant with a disabled child up to twelve months to move, unless the tenant is in breach of the tenancy agreement. Chapter 239 Section 9. In my experience, the Courts do not give out that much time at the beginning of the case, but only give out time in periods, such as thirty, sixty or ninety days. The tenant would then have to file a motion with the court requesting more time. If you need the apartment sooner, you could always offer cash for keys. Good luck with this.

    See question 
  • Is the address on a Notice to Quit important? Does it have to be correct?

    I served my tenants with a 14 day and 30 day notice to quit two weeks ago. The tenants cured the rent and their attorney said that the 30 day notice for June 1st wouldn't be valid because it was served with the 14 day. I served my tenants with ...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Hire a lawyer. It will save you money and time in the long run. Of course, the address on a Notice to Quit is important, and an incorrect address would likely lead to the case being dismissed. Massachusetts landlord tenant law is complex and a misstep could get your case dismissed. Do yourself a favor, conduct this like a business, and hire a lawyer to advise you on the law. Good luck.

    See question 
  • Can someone please point me in the right direction on how to file a Private Nuisance claim against my landlord ?

    I notified my landlord way before April 2015 about the constant screaming, banging, & racial slurs from my neighbor (sometimes from 3pm until 4 am ), she does everything inside her apt. i have called the police many times, they even paid her a vi...

    Christopher’s Answer

    In a case I litigated, the Supreme Judicial Court held that a tenant cannot sue his or her landlord for a nuisance on the property the tenant rents from the landlord. Jane Doe v. New Bedford Housing Authority, 317 Mass. 273 (1994). The Court in that case did rule that the tenant may have a cause of action under a quiet enjoyment claim pursuant to Chapter 186 section 14. Good luck with your problem. You should consult a lawyer.

    See question 
  • Can a landlord do this?

    Can the landlord add a Lease Addendum - months after you signed a lease renewal. Or does it have to legally be given only on lease renewal. Also it states if you don't sign you can still be in violation of eviction. It gives a start date of ef...

    Christopher’s Answer

    In general, no. Both parties have to agree to any changes in the terms of the lease. If there is a change in the law, a town by-law perhaps or change in state law, governing a particular term, usually the lease may provide for a unilateral change. Also, if a tenant lives in housing subsidized by the government, such as Section 8 or public housing, the leases are controlled by federal or state law, which may allow a unilateral change. However, in a lease between two private parties, both parties have to agree to any change. If you have a problem with this, you should consult a lawyer. Good luck with this problem.

    See question 
  • Question about an eviction case

    my family and I are going to court on a eviction case due to withholding rent due to the landlord not finishing repairs I have requested I have filed a board of health complaint to find out he never passed inspection for 6 years and no occupancy ...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You should file a motion to file a late answer and discovery. In your answer, you will need to set out in writing your claims and defenses. Otherwise you will not be permitted to present any counterclaims in the case. Here is a useful website put out by Legal Services. http://www.masslegalhelp.org/fighting-an-eviction-in-court. These cases are no walk in the park. You should consult a lawyer.

    See question 
  • Can I file contempt charges on my own?

    Over a year ago I went through a divorce and certain provisions were put into place. My ex wife has broken nearly every aspect of the agreement (and 2 children are involved) and I've had it. I have no less than 6 contempt charges I can bring again...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Yes, you can file a contempt action on your own. I suggest that you hire a lawyer to represent you i this matter. The rules of procedure and rules of evidence are complex, and you stand the best chance of prevailing if you have a lawyer. In any event, if you prevail, you have the right to ask the court to pay your attorney's fees. As to your previous lawyer's not fighting for you, lawyers take different approaches in depending on which court the case is in. For example, I take a low key approach in the Family court because I know that the judges have been listening to litigants argue all day, and do not like to see the lawyers coming on too strong. I tell my clients that is how I approach the case, and it has proven successful for the most part. Good luck with this matter. Hire a lawyer.

    See question 
  • How do you legally turn down an applicant for tenancy? are there rules I must follow?

    i recently got out of tenant hell and do not want to go back! I believe i am suffering tenant PTSD! and am now ready and need to rent my place again. as one of my precautions, I peruse through the housing court data base, and I found many of my...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You may properly reject an applicant who does not pass your credit and reference check. You can simply say that the tenant did not pass the credit check. This is a brochure put out by the Berkshire Housing Authority which provides useful information, including information on complying with the Fair Housing laws.
    http://www.berkshirehousing.com/documents/Tips_on_Selecting_a_Tenant.pdf
    Remember do your background work. Consult a landlord tenant lawyer. This is a business and the time and money you put in up front will save you time and money in the long run. Good luck with your business.

    See question 
  • My brothers wife is dying my brother is in hospital his in laws have his kids they want to keep them could this happen

    What are my brothers rights

    Christopher’s Answer

    We need a b it more information to provide an adequate response. Is your brother in the hospital for his own health problems, and consequently, cannot care for the children? If the in laws want to keep the children, they would have to file a petition for guardianship. Here is the court website dealing with guardianships.
    http://www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/law-lib/laws-by-subj/about/guardian.html
    The Court would have to find that the parent is unfit to carry out his or her parental responsibilities. Your brother would have to be served with notice and has the right to appear and explain why the petition should not be allowed. Here is another very good website on this subject.
    http://www.masslegalservices.org/system/files/library/Chapter+13+Final.pdf
    He should hire a lawyer. Good luck with this.

    See question 
  • DCF has custody of my kids. My wife is impeeding the reunification process . What can I do?

    She is an addict that won't comply with DVDs action plan. I am doing everything they ask but they say its not enough.help please

    Christopher’s Answer

    Hire a lawyer right away. DCF cases are complicated, and not something to be taken lightly. You need a lawyer. File for divorce and request custody of the children. This is the DCF manual which should provide useful information for you.:
    http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/laws-regs/dcf/regulations-and-policies.html
    There is not enough information provided to give a more detailed answer. Good luck with this.

    See question