Recent News and Alerts

  • Aug 01, 2017

    SJC: Employees can bring handicap discrimination claims in connection with use of medical marijuana

    The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that an employee terminated for failing a drug test due to use of medical marijuana can maintain handicap discrimination claims under 151B.
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  • Nov 29, 2016

    Real Estate Management Advisory: What To Do About Recreational Marijuana?

    Now that the ballot question on recreational marijuana has been approved, the question for landlords is what can they do about this and what rights do they have.
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  • Feb 03, 2016

    To Smoke Or Not To Smoke: Medical Marijuana in Apartments

    Article by Ken Krems in Bay State Apartment Owner Publication, 3rd Quarter, 2015
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  • Mar 25, 2013

    No-Pet Policy Doesn’t Apply to Service Animals

    Article by Kenneth Krems for Banker & Tradesman weekly publication

    You manage a building with a no-pet policy. A resident walks into your office and proclaims that she needs to have a companion animal, a big Siberian Husky, right now. Your inclination is to tell her no way, because you don't allow any pets, and certainly not a big dog. What should you do?

    Recently, there have been many more requests from residents and applicants for service animals. In the past, these primarily involved seeing-eye dogs, but now there are numerous requests for emotional support or comfort animals, which are primarily dogs or cats, but can also be other animals such as birds, monkeys or iguanas.

    Various studies have demonstrated that emotional support animals can assist in the treatment of physical and mental illness. They can help decrease depression, stress and anxiety. An increasing number of hospitals now allow pets on their floors to comfort patients.
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  • Sep 10, 2012

    Hoarding: The New Epidemic

    Article by Kenneth Krems featured in Bay State Apartment Owner publication

    It's time for the annual apartment inspection, so you open the door and go in. Only then do you realize you have just entered the twilight zone.

    You look around and can't believe what you see. To the right, floor-to-ceiling stacks of papers, magazines and books. To the left, enormous piles upon piles of clothes and bags. You step further into the living room and can now see the door to one of the bedrooms, but realize the room is completely inaccessible because of the mountains of stuff. You peek into the bathroom -- the tub is full of clothes and papers. The kitchen stove is covered with open food, magazines and boxes. There is evidence of roaches and mice all around. The apartment is a disaster.

    The resident is a hoarder.
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  • May 01, 1997

    Reasonable Accommodations in Residential Landlord/Tenant Law

    Article by Kenneth Krems for Massachusetts Bar Association Property Law, Section News

    The duties of landlords and the rights of tenants in handicapped discrimination law are defined by a complex mixture of state and federal law. Each of the applicable laws, however, is based upon the premise of equal opportunity in housing for the disabled. Equal opportunity is achieved by offering qualified disabled persons reasonable accommodations to account for their disability. Massachusetts courts have been applying the reasonable accommodation standard in decisions, which are beginning to define the contours of the law with regard to handicapped discrimination in housing.

    In one case, a landlord brought a summary process complaint in Boston Housing Court against a tenant alleging that the tenant was disturbing the quiet enjoyment of the other tenants by playing loud music and carousing during the night. The defendant answered that the landlord had violated the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by failing to offer a reasonable accommodation. The Rehabilitation Act was operative because the landlord was the recipient of federal funds.
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  • Dec 01, 1996

    Reasonable Accommodation: Score a Few for the Landlords

    Article by Kenneth Krems for New England Assisted Housing Management Association publication

    Section 504, The ADA. What do these laws mean? How do they impact a landlord's obligation to the tenants? These are questions landlords have struggled with for the last few years, and these questions are still difficult to answer. As more cases are decided, however, there are more guidelines for landlords to follow. Several of the most recent cases have been decided in favor of landlords.

    One case which emphasized the need for reasonable accommodation was decided by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1991. In that case, a 77-year-old female tenant suffered from a mental disability which caused her to hear voices. In response, she would hit the walls of her apartment with a broom or stick and throw objects at the walls. This activity did relatively minor damage to the unit and did not substantially interfere with the quiet enjoyment of other tenants. The Court held that the landlord could not evict the tenant, but had to accommodate her by giving her further opportunities to obtain counseling to help her control the behavior.
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