When an individual or family rents a home, they enter into a contract with the landlord. Under Massachusetts law, both the tenant and the landlord have a duty to abide by the terms of the contract. If one of them fails to do so, it results in a breach of contract, which eventually leads to a dispute between them.
Breach of Agreement May Occur From Either Side
A tenant can be accused of breaching the lease agreement under the following circumstances.
- Non-payment of rent
- Delayed rent payments
- Disturbing other tenants by being too loud and noisy
- Failing to pay for the damages they caused (not applicable to normal wear and tear)
- Subletting the house to other people, despite not being authorized by the landlord to do so
A landlord can be accused of breaching the lease agreement under the following circumstances.
Committing Massachusetts State Sanitary Code violations by not providing the tenant with a habitable place to live in
- Forcing the tenant to pay for normal wear and tear
- Preventing the tenant from joining a tenants’ union
- Evicting the client without a valid reason
- Withholding the security deposit without a valid reason
In the aforementioned situations, both the landlord and the tenant have the right to take their dispute to court. Doing so, however, might be a bad idea, as litigation can drag on for years and cost a lot of money.
Instead, both parties can decide to settle their issues in an amicable manner with the help of a professional mediator.
How Mediation Can Resolve Landlord-Tenant Disputes
The mediator can facilitate a one-on-one discussion between the tenant and the landlord, where they can air out their grievances and state their opinions on what needs to be done next.
Whenever an exchange becomes contentious, the mediator will intervene and remind both parties to focus on the big picture, which is settling the issue amicably without enduring a long and expensive legal battle.
Mediation can be particularly beneficial for landlords, as it can help them save a lot of time and money. Under Massachusetts law, a landlord is not allowed to physically remove a tenant from the premises and take possession of their property. They are required to give a 30-day notice to the tenant, file an eviction lawsuit with the court, and get a judgment which clearly states the date on which the tenant must vacate the premises.
If the tenant refuses to leave on the specified date, the landlord must get a constable or sheriff to order the tenant to leave. Needless to say, it can be an extremely stressful experience for the landlord.
The process of mediation, on the other hand, allows the landlord to directly talk to the tenant and resolve the problem without escalating things any further.
Points of Resolution
Typically, once a settlement agreement is reached, the tenant might agree to one or more of the following conditions.
- To vacate the rental property after a specific period of time
- To pay rent on time for as long as they stay in the rental property
- To modify their behavior so that they do not disturb other tenants
- To stop illegally subletting the unit to other people
The landlord might agree to one or more of the following conditions.
- To give the tenant a positive or neutral reference
- To make some concessions with respect to the back rent owed by the tenant
- To make the necessary repairs at their own cost
Working with an experienced mediator considerably increases the chances of resolving a breach of contract dispute in a civil manner. The mediator can provide valuable suggestions that can benefit both parties and help them find a solution that both of them can agree with.
Speak to an Experienced Massachusetts Mediator Today
At Shapiro Mediation Services, our team is prepared to stand by your side and help achieve a favorable outcome through the effective use of mediation. Given our extensive amount of experience, as it pertains to litigation, we can make use of mediation to help you avoid the stress, cost, and investment of time associated with litigation.