Do we take legal actiona
June 7, 2010 5:23 AM Subscribe
Sticky Renting Situation Filter: I just moved into a house that my girlfriend and two other friends have been renting from my girlfriends mother for about 2 years now. Now my girlfriends uncles want to increase the rent (oral lease) pretty heavily and planned to do so before they even knew I was moving in. Do I use the law to protect our rights as tenants, or because it's my girlfriend's family do we just pick up and leave instead of fighting it?
posted by modoriculous to law & government (23 answers total)
The house is my girlfriend's grandmothers old house and is next door to my girlfriends mothers house. The mother loves living next to her daughter and does not want to increase rent but is outnumbered by the two uncles.
Aside from this, I worry that the mother and uncles believe they are doing the tenants a favor by letting them live there, and that they are not being responsible landlords or treating us as actual tenants. There is no written lease (a big no no for landlords), they do not take care of the yard or snow, they come in whenever they want to make home improvements. Also, the house is old, things are broken, and nothing is fixed in a timely manner. For the most part none of the tenants ever minded, but now that rent is going up another $650 dollars in total these will be issues. Their plans are to ask us to leave if we cannot pay the increase. I do understand that my moving into the house is an additional source of income, however my girlfriend and I have 1 bedroom, it's not as if I'm getting another additional bedroom in the house.
Things we have on our side:
1. In Massachusetts tenants must be given a written document stating the increase in rent. (This has not been done).
2. As that the lease is an oral lease we can tell them they are responsible for paying the utilities as well as all past utilities paid since it is not stated in a written lease (Massachusetts law).
3. It's obvious they want the increase in rent to pay for all the improvements they are making to the house so they can sell it. (They've have had to fix the water heater, the plumbing, and there will be more) I believe it is also illegal to increase rent in Massachusetts or anywhere to do this.
4. A quick call to the Board of Health and an inspection will result in the fact that many things in the house are illegal and not up to code. (This is a last resort.)
5. I don't think that the gf's mother and uncles know that you cannot simply evict or make us leave simply because they are requesting more money. Rent has always been paid and we are the ones that take care of the property (which we shouldn't have to do). They have done nothing legally in the formal process of increasing rent and if taken to court the law will be on our side.
My ultimate question is what should we do in this scenario, do we pick up and go (I know not everyone has enough money to simply pick up and pay first/last for a new place somewhere)? I've emailed the uncles requesting that we sit down and talk about this, it's been a week and I've received no response. The gf's mother believes they will not want to sit down and talk and expect the increase in rent regardless. I am worried that because they are not treating us as real tenants that when I tell them all of these things they will just get mad, and blame my girlfriends mother for all of these things.