Massachusetts Eviction Laws
A Massachusetts landlord can only evict a tenant upon expiration of the lease term, for violation of a specific provision in the rental agreement or for nonpayment of rent. All landlords must follow the Massachusetts eviction process to expel a tenant.
Illegal Tenant Evictions
Following the Massachusetts eviction process means the landlord must first give the tenant proper notice in most cases and then by obtaining a court order. Occasionally, a landlord will circumvent these steps and take illegal measures, such as the following:
- Shutting off the utilities
- Changing the locks or denying use of the premises
- Entering and removing the tenant’s personal belongings
- Interfering with the tenant’s use of the property
If a landlord attempts any of these actions, he or she may be subject to criminal and civil liability. If this occurs, a tenant should send a registered or certified letter to the landlord warning him or her that these actions are illegal. If the landlord does commit an illegal act, the tenant could obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) ordering the landlord to restore the premises, property and other services to the tenant. The court could also order the landlord to pay damages to the tenant of at least 3 months rent, court costs and attorney’s fees.
Massachusetts Notice to Quit
In nonpayment of rent evictions, the landlord is required to serve a Massachusetts eviction notice giving the tenant 14-days to pay or to vacate or the lease will be terminated. Any rental agreement that waives this requirement is illegal. Some leases may give the tenant a longer time to comply.
For eviction reasons other than nonpayment of rent, the Massachusetts eviction notice is not statutorily specified, though many leases give a 7-day notice, which is legal. In these cases, the notice must refer to the lease provision in violation and that the tenant may remedy the breach within the notice period, vacate the premises, or the lease will terminate and legal action will be brought. If there is no written lease, the Massachusetts eviction notice is 14 days for nonpayment of rent. For any other reason, the notice is 30 days, or at the end of the rental period, whichever is longer.
No Tenant Eviction Notice
A landlord need not give notice if the lease expires and there is an option to renew that the tenant fails to exercise. The landlord may proceed directly to the next step in the Massachusetts eviction process.
For more information on Massachusetts Eviction Laws please go to:
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