Landlord in Lowell caught breaking law. Can we terminate lease?

Additional Information:
My wife and I rent an apartment in Lowell, Massachusetts. We noticed some things missing from our apartment so we set up a surveillance camera and caught our landlord entering our apartment without permission while we were away. This was after I took action of withholding rent to force the landlord to make necessary repairs. My wife and I now feel so uncomfortable living here we feel we must move. What legal actions, criminal and civil, do we have against him? Remember he is on camera.

Attorney Answer:
If the landlord entered your Lowell apartment secretly for a purpose other than for making repairs or another emergency, in my opinion that would be grounds for termination of your tenancy. You have a few options available to you. On the criminal side, in Massachusetts you can file an application for the issuance of a criminal complaint. This will require you to go to the Lowell district court and “swear out” a complaint. On the civil side, you can sue the landlord for something called “breach of quiet enjoyment”, for which you would be entitled to damages in the amount of 3 months rent as well as attorney’s fees. Finally, in my view you would also be eligible for damages for the cost of your move, any emotional distress you suffered from feeling “violated” by the landlord’s unlawful entry into your apartment, and any increase in rent you would have to pay for any apartment you move to.

Attorney Alan Fanger is a Massachusetts real estate attorney and handles landlord tenant disputes throughout the state. He serves the entire Greater Boston and Boston metrowest region including Norfolk County, Suffolk County, Middlesex County and the communities of Arlington, Boston, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Canton, Concord, Dedham, Dover, Framingham, Lexington, Milton, Natick, Needham, Newton, Norwood, Quincy, Sherborn, Sudbury, Waltham, Wayland, Wellesley, and Weston, Massachusetts.

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