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Breaking Lease for Revoking Parking Permission

Sorry this is a long one!

My husband and I rent an apartment in Belmont, MA in a owner occupied duplex. Two weeks ago our landlord (who lives upstairs) let us know that she no longer will allow us to park on her driveway. Our car is older and will drip fluids. She claims this is an environmental issue and the EPA will come after her, or the "liberals" (she's quite paranoid). When she informed us of her decisions we asked if she would break the lease and her response was that parking has nothing to do with the lease. This is true, in the lease it says parking is under the permission of the landlord, however when we met with her to sign the lease she verbally agreed to let us use half of the driveway. We would not have signed the lease if parking wasn't included or if we thought she would not permit us to park there. In Belmont, as in most cities in the area, you cannot park on teh street overnight. It should alos be mentioned that we spent hundreds of dollars in making repairs to the car and even bought a tarp for the car to park over. She was still not happy. She essentially told us that that wasn't her problem and that we should just get a new car. This isn't an option for us because we're expecting our first child, plus we feel that's something she has no right to require.

Since that day she removed her parking permission, we have been forced to stay with family and untimately our only option right now is to move out. So last week we informed her that we would be moving out. We agreed to continue to pay rent (because our family is letting us live rent free until we can get out of our lease) and she agreed to find a new tenant.

I spoke with her yesterday when I went over to check the mail. During our conversation is came out that she is making no effort to find a new tenant and is just waiting for people to suggest tenants. She even said if we knew anyone that fit her desired attributes in a tenant that would be ok (I would not recommend her to anyone as a landlord). She also informed me that she only likes to rent to a certain type of people, namely Mormons (of which religion we are) because of their clean habbits. She also informed me that she would not advertise the apartment because "you have to rent to anyone." I asked if she would be willing to agree to some sort of timeline to find a new tenant then let us out of our lease. She said no and that we are responsible for the lease we signed. Our lease ends July 31st 2011, we already paid July rent upfront.

In my research I know that the landlord has to make a resonable effort to find a new tenant, and it sound to me like she's not. Although, I don't know how that is defined in the law. I also feel as if she broke a verbal agreement by revoking parking permission. Additionally, isn't in some way in violation of MA law by only wanting to rent to a certain type of people?

Do you think we would have a good case in court? We have a friend who practices commercial real estate law and she offered to write a letter to our landlord letting her know that if we can't come to some sort of agreement that our next steps is taking her to court. Should we have her write the letter?

We're kind of lost, so anyone help would be welcome!

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I haven't read the lease, and I don't know what was said regarding parking.  So I have no idea how that issue will play out.   However, you can go to housing court and ask the court for an injunction requiring the landlady to let you park your car in the driveway.  Or, you can save that issue for another day and simply stop paying rent.  (At that point, the landlord would have to decide if she wants to sue you to collect the rent.)  By all means allow your attorney friend to help out.  I find it hard to believe that the housing court would find that the landlord, by refusing to advertise or to rent to non-Mormons, has used reasonable efforts to locate a new tenant.  Good luck.

Thanks for the reply. The lease states that parking is by permission of the landlord, which she gave to us prior to us signing the lease.

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