You're living in a building with little or no heat, poor plumbing, cockroaches, or any number of other problems. You have repeatedly asked your landlord to fix these problems. The Board of Health has ordered your landlord to make repairs. You have withheld your rent. You have done everything you can to get the building into safe and sanitary conditions and now your landlord refuses to even answer your calls.
Chances are your landlord has gone bankrupt, abandoned the property, or decided not to put any more money into it. If your landlord refuses to maintain your apartment, there is something you can do to get repairs made and prevent conditions from getting worse. You can ask the court to appoint a temporary landlord called a receiver. A receiver takes over the management of the property, collects rent, and makes repairs with your money.
The purpose of this chapter is to explain when receivership is a possible strategy, what steps you need to take to get a receiver, and what strategies you can use to get the court to appoint a good receiver.1 Because the receivership process can be complex, you should try to retain a lawyer as soon as possible. A list of Legal Service offices and Legal Referral Services is in the Directory at the end of this book.
1. A useful publication with more information about receiverships is How to Take the Distress Out of Abandoned Housing (1998), by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education. It is available at the Massachusetts Trial Court law libraries (at Barnstable, Berkshire, Brockton, Essex, Fall River, Lawrence, and Worcester, and through inter-library loan at the other courthouse libraries). It may also be available at libraries at the local law schools or at your local legal services office.