State law makes it illegal for the landlord or their agent to take action against the tenant for doing the following things:

  • Notifying the landlord, in writing, of violations of the state Sanitary Code;
  • Reporting the landlord to health inspectors, the board of health, or other officials for violations of law;
  • Withholding rent because of bad conditions;
  • Taking legal action against your landlord;
  • Enforcing your rights; or
  • Organizing or joining a tenant’s organization.

If, within 6 months after the tenant engages in any of the above activities, a landlord sends the tenant a notice to quit, a notice of increase in rent, or a notice of any substantial change in the terms of the tenant’s lease or tenancy, the law requires a judge to assume that the landlord’s action was retaliatory. If challenged, the landlord must prove “by clear and convincing evidence” that his or her action would have occurred regardless of the tenant’s involvement in these protected activities. If the landlord fails to prove this, the tenant may be entitled to between 1-3 month’s rent or money damages for their actual loss, whichever is greater, plus the costs of bringing the lawsuit and attorney’s fees. G.L. c. 186 §18.

If you believe your landlord has violated your rights by retaliating against you, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who knows the law and will fight for your rights. It is not uncommon for the court to order that the landlord is responsible for the tenant’s attorney’s fees in the appropriate circumstances. Therefore, you may not have to pay your attorney anything to take on your case. We have had much success in this area of our practice. Call our office at 508.407.8338 to set up a free consultation. We can also be reached at Alternatively, you can reach us at the after-hours line at (508)-579-8333.

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