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Residential Leases and Making Art at Home
Be aware of your safety and health when producing artwork, or even when performing seemingly innocuous activities such as sanding. In a home studio other family members can be exposed to any hazardous materials you generate. Industrial Hygienists can visit your studio and advise on ways to ventilate, dispose of and (most importantly) how to avoid producing pollutants in the first place. See our section on Safety and Health.
"Residential" vs. "live-work" buildings.
If you sign a lease for a unit in a standard residential building (even if it is a "loft" building) working at home comes to a landlord’s legitimate attention when
- the neighbors can smell or hear the activity
- neighbors’ complaints involve worries about hazardous substances
- you are dumping solvents into the kitchen sink
- the carpet is ruined
- doors, walls or ceilings are dismantled
- the press of deadlines or expanding ideas bring in assistants who use up the parking spaces, work into the night, store materials in common areas, etc.
How does bone-fide rental "live/work" space deal with the issues posed above?
- A good live/work building is built to contain sounds and odors within units, and should have provision for adding exhaust systems on a unit-by-unit basis.
- A good live/work building should have a working relationship with an industrial hygienist who can respond to tenants’ questions and can blow the whistle on things that just should not be done in a multi-unit situation.
- A good live/work building should have provisions for disposal of solvents, etc.
- A good live/work building has durable, cleanable floors in most of the space,.
- A good live/work rental building manages to provide for living basics without using up all the work space – a hard act to pull off well in small spaces.
Neighbors in live/work buildings generally follow the golden rule when it comes to accommodating occasional inconveniences, crowds, or noises. Lease terms are written to allow management to deal with people who egregiously or routinely disturb the other occupants.
There are a variety of ‘nuisance’ and tenant laws which cover your rights as a residential tenant in Massachusetts. Here we provide links to some of the best resources available for you to get all the information you need to know before renting a residential space.
These sites will cover issues such as:
- Security deposits and last months rent
- Leases and tenants at will
- Code issues
- Rent increases
1. Massachusetts Legal Help’s
This handbook provides practical information about tenants' rights in private housing, housing that is owned by an individual or a privately owned company.
2. State of Massachusetts’ Office of Consumer Affairs and Regulation
The Rental Housing Resource Center was created by Mayor Thomas M. Menino in 1995 to provide advice, information, and assistance to Boston landlords and tenants who have problems or questions about rental housing issues.
The Rental Housing Resource Center:
- Mediates housing-related disputes, free of charge.
- Provides information to landlords and tenants regarding their rights and responsibilities under the law, and answers questions on any rental housing matter.
- Administers a Safety-Net program, which provides income-eligible elderly or disabled tenants, who are living in formerly rent-controlled units, with a rent subsidy for up to 24 months.
The Good Neighbors Handbook is a free informational guide that helps landlords and tenants understand and comply with the complex landlord/tenant laws