Community Resource Guide: Housing Conditions and Getting Repairs Made
Important Local Enforcement Offices:
Tenants have the right to a safe living environment with or without a lease.
The basics are outlined below. More detailed information can be found here.
For Disrepair/ Health Hazards that Occur After Move-In:
Step 1: The best way to start is to contact the landlord in their preferred method of communication (this could be text, phone, or email).
See the Housing Code Checklist for the amount of time generally allowed for the landlord to make the repairs. Note: basic upkeep, like changing light bulbs, often fall on the tenant to do. Although, you may be able to talk your landlord into deducting the price of the bulbs from your rent with proof of purchase.
Step 2: If your landlord doesn’t respond or refuses to make changes that are outlined in the Housing Code Checklist as the landlord’s responsibility, it is time to write a formal letter. You can use the template below or write your own (the tenant clinic can also help with this).
Violations can often be serious concerns. To get them fixed, tenants and landlords should follow the proper order of events.
Either way, your letter should include the following:
1. That you have already tried to contact the landlord concerning the repairs
2. That the problem still exists (you should describe it briefly and clearly)
3. You should also state the exact section of MA Housing Law that states that this problem should be fixed. That information can be found on the right side of the Housing Code Checklist.
4. You should also say that, if the landlord fails to begin repairs within 5 days, you will contact the proper city department (either your town's Health Department or Building Department) to ask for an insepction.
5. Optional: in certain circumstances, you may pay for the repairs yourself and then arrange that the amount be deducted from your rent.
Send the letter in the mail, dated and signed, and keep a copy for yourself.
ALSO- make sure to read your lease. Sometimes there are clauses concerning who is responsible for the repairs of the apartment.
Step 3: If nothing has improved, you now have the right to seek a building or health inspection and/or get the work done yourself and deduct the amount from the rent. You should send another letter to your landlord informing them of when/why these events will take place.
For Information About Rent Withholding, click here.
You should always seek council before you withhold rent and proceed only by following the correct process.
If you have bedbugs, this is a serious health issue that needs to be addressed immediately by you and the landlord.
The problem should be immediately reported to your health department. Also, if your landlord doesn’t know about the problem, they should also be informed immediately.
If they are avoiding the problem, follow steps similar to those above that are meant for less urgent repairs.
However, it is in your best interest to get your apartment inspected and, if the problem is bedbugs, fumigated immediately. If you need to take on these costs to protect yourself from further harm, you can later require repayment from the landlord especially if you can prove that they willfully ignored the problem. The best way to do this is to keep a paper trail/ evidence of your attempts to communicate the infestation to them. For legal help with this, see our Legal Resources page.
CDBG Rehabilitation and Lead Loan Programs (Waltham): Homeowners and Landlords can make use of this federal loan program to make certain repairs and improvements to homes. The application and information on the programs can be found by following with link above.
Tenants with children under age six should call the Health Department immediately and ask for a free lead inspection or determination. The Waltham Health Department is equipped to do this.
Get the Lead Out Loan Program: A loan through MassHousing for lead paint removal projects