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As a landlord of a commercial(non-residential) building, am I allowed to cut the power to a tenant who doesn't pay rent?

Chicopee, MA |

The way it works is the electrical bill is sent to the management office and payed by the owner of the building, and then each tenant is billed depending on the amount the used. So if a tenant does not pay the bill it means the owner loses money. Also, it is clearly stated in the lease that failure to pay the rent will result in an eviction and the electricity being turn off.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. In general, it is a bad idea to cut off basic utilities to a tenant without a court order. Your best bet is to start the eviction process with your local housing court. Massachusetts is a very tenant friendly state and you may be liable for treble damages if a tenant take you to court and succeeds in a cause of action. I understand it means a loss of money for the interim but it is something you can request during the eviction process to potentially recoup some of the losses. I would consult with a landlord/tenant attorney about the matter.

    Kyle Piro is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed by Attorney Piro answering your question. It is advisable to consult with an attorney about your personal legal concerns.


  2. NO. No. The answer is "NO"! Did you get that?

    Under Mass. law, if a landlord retaliates against a tenant for non-payment of rent, he can be liable for up to 3-times one months rent. This means the landlord can sue you, EVEN if he doesn't pay his rent.

    Even if your lease says you can turn off the electric, Mass. law says you cannot. Mass. law trumps your lease agreement.

    Your best bet here is to hire an attorney and sue the tenant for (1) back rent owed; and (2) start an eviction proceeding. This can be done in the same action.


  3. I agree with my colleagues. Do not stop any utilities or otherwise engage in self-help. Rather, give notice and evict your tenant for breach of lease relative to payment of utilities and ask for a money judgment to recover your losses.

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