Breaking a Lease
KCL attorney Neal Glick’s client rented what she thought was a luxury apartment in the Back Bay. After entering into a lease, the tenant found that the apartment was infested by rodents and lacked proper heat. What to do?
The landlord insisted that the tenant could not break her lease and when she was forced to move out due to the unlivable conditions, the landlord threatened to sue her for alleged damages in the tens of thousands.
Constructive Eviction and the Consumer Protection Statute
Neal used the legal theory of constructive eviction and the consumer protection statute (G.L. c. 93A) and preemptively sued the landlord.
Constructive eviction can allow a tenant to break a lease without penalty when the premises is uninhabitable. Lack of required utilities, failure to meet health codes or provide reasonable security and even premises that do not permit the “quiet enjoyment” of the space can constitute uninhabitable conditions.
Violations of the State Sanitary Code can trigger the consumer protection provisions of Chapter 93A. These sorts of tenant claims can trigger landlord liability for multiple damages and attorneys’ fees.
Landlord Paid Damages
In this case, the result was a quick settlement in which the landlord not only dropped all of his claims for damages, but paid the client thousands of dollars for moving costs, legal fees and other damages.
About Neal Glick
Neal B. Glick is a partner at Kerstein, Coren & Lichtenstein LLP in Wellesely, MA. His practice focuses on commercial real estate transactions, development, zoning, environmental and land use matters, renewable energy, affordable housing, commercial lending and loan servicing. He represents developers, owners, individuals, lenders, land trusts and associations as well as community groups. Neal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-9 97-1600.