KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: THE "NOISY NEIGHBOR"
This is the second in a series of posts about your rights as a tenant in Massachusetts. Click here to read our first post about the warranty of habitability & poor apartment conditions.
SCENARIO 1: You have enjoyed your first seven months at your apartment. Other residents are generally quiet and friendly, the grounds are clean, and the snow gets cleared. The issue begins, however, when your new neighbors move in down the hall. Your new neighbors stay up late, invite friends over at all hours, smoke in their apartment, and create lots of noise all day and night. In short, your new neighbors make it so you can no longer sleep, you have to keep your windows open so their smoke doesn’t settle into your apartment, and your apartment is no longer a place you want to be.
IS THIS A VIOLATION? Yes. This is a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. In Massachusetts, the covenant of quiet enjoyment is implied in every residential lease and cannot be waived by a rental agreement. The covenant of quiet enjoyment provides protection to a tenant from serious interference with his or her tenancy. This includes a landlord’s acts or omissions that impair the character and value of a leased premise.
SCENARIO 2: Counting yourself lucky to get an apartment in the new mixed-use development in your town, you enjoy your days and nights. Things are going well until one day, the trendy coffee shop below you decides to move, only to be replaced by a sports bar. Now you have to deal with loud drunk patrons walking the streets below your apartment, the occasional drunken fight waking you up at 2am as the patrons leave the new establishment, and the bass of the loud music coming up through your floors. Upset with this major change, you ask your landlord—who controls the entire building— to do something about this very disruptive noise.
IS THIS A VIOLATION? Yes. This also is a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Even though the new sports bar is not a residential apartment, as long as your landlord has control over it, the landlord is responsible for providing you with a living situation free from interference from the noise and disruptions caused by the sports bar.
In determining whether your landlord may be legally liable, one of the key things to look out for is whether she has control over the problem. For instance, if noise from the auto body shop across the street from your apartment, which is not owned by your landlord, starts keeping you up at night, this is unlikely to be a breach of quiet enjoyment. This is because in a situation like that, while your landlord could ask the auto shop to reduce the noise, she does not actually have any control over their activities.
How can the Law Office of Thomas R. Davis help you?
If you have a housing issue, the Law Office of Thomas R. Davis is here to help.
Call us any time at (617) 431-3887 for a free, no obligation attorney consultation. Whether on the phone or at our office, we'll discuss your situation in more detail and the legal options you may have at your disposal to fix it. We are here to provide you with the quality representation you deserve.