4 months after moving into an old house converted into 4 apartments, an older man moved in who is, as my landlord states, "Half Deaf". From day one he has been blaring his TV, most times until 2 am, and plays his radio very loud over the weekend and every other day my apartment reeks of weed. I have made numerous complaints to my landlord and he told me to work it out with the other tenant "as he's a reasonable guy" and if he refuses to turn it down then call the police. I've tried to talk to the guy, but he won't answer his door. I've tried tapping on the wall and asking loudly for him to turn it down. Some times he does and other times he turns it up louder. So I called the police and there isn't a thing they can do, due to a 150 feet noise law. Meaning if they can't hear anything 150 feet of the building, then its an internal issue and the landlord must then sort it out. There is nothing in my lease about smoking, but there is about noise. What are my rights as a tenant if my landlord refuses to take action? Can I withhold rent (in escrow) until he sorts this out, as breach of the contract?
To being with, you can't withhold rent. You can only withhold rent to force a landlord to make repairs for things that violate the state sanitary code, not for contract violations. Secondly, if your lease doesn't prohibit smoking, then there is nothing your landlord can do about the smoking. It is legal to smoke weed inside your own home, so if this isn't a violation of the lease, then you landlord has no recourse, and you don't either. In terms of the noise, you can sue your landlord for a violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment for the constant noise violations, however, when the only issue is noise, this is not an easy complaint to make. You can point to your constant complaints and his refusal to address it with the other tenant, and that may be enough. Your first step should be to send a demand letter to your landlord with the possible violations and demanding that he make payment and address the situation. Unfortunately, you may also just want to consider whether you really want to stay in this apartment, especially since there is no legal recourse for half of your major complaints.
I am a Massachusetts attorney and answer questions based on Massachusetts law. The above answer is for educational purposes only and does not create an attorney client relationship or constitute legal advice.
You may be able to send your landlord a demand letter instructing them that he is breaching your right to quiet enjoyment of the premises. If the landlord fails to take steps to correct the serious interference then you may have an action against him. Contact a lawyer for a free consultation.
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