What to do about a landlord who is harrassing us?

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What to do about a landlord who is harrassing us?

Landlord is entering home without permission or notice and at times when we are not home. Landlord wanted to evict us by verbal threats but not go to court so to try to displace us he shut off the septic and water which has been off for a month. He acknowledges that we sleep there and have to use facilities and eat out elsewhere. Because we are persistent as to when the water and septic will be turned on, he has just recently changed the locks as of yesterday. None of this was done with court order or permission and we feel our legal rights as tenants have been violated.

Asked on May 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your legal rights have been violated from what you write; a landlord may not--

* shut off utilities, sewar, water, etc.

* change the locks himself

(Note that IF there were grounds to evict you, the landlord can only do this by going to court and getting a "judgment of possesion"; it is illegal for a landlord to lock out or otherwise try to force out tenants himself.)

* to enter you home without your consent, except upon reasonable notice (e.g. 24 hours) for repairs, maintence, inspection, or to show it to prospective renters or buyers, or for an emergency (e.g. gas leak, major water leak, fire).

You should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney about suing your landlord; from what you write, you are entitled to monetary compensation for the time you have been without water or septic, as well as for the illegal lock out, and also for a court order directing the landlord to cease the harassment.


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