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Can my landlord evict me??

Salem, MA |
Filed under: Landlord-tenant

We have been living in our apartment for just shy of 2 yrs. We were late on our September rent because we have recently fell under some hard times. We are back on track and got all of the money together for our September and October rent and called our landlords to come collect it. We have been in constant contact with them keeping them up to date on our situation and we didn't know there was an issue until he handed us a letter last night saying we have 30 days to get out because we are 10 Weeks late on our rent and they want $100 late fee, and we have to be out by 10/27. We are not 10 Weeks late, we were 3.5 Weeks and I have every rent receipt to prove that. I have not received a 14 day notice, he has not filed anything with the courtd, I have 3 minor children. What is my next step??

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Your next step should be to call a LOCAL Landlord / Tenant lawyer... There are specific rules a Landlord must follow to charge a late fee (rent must be so many days late before a late fee can be charged) and to evict. Call a local lawyer to understand what your rights and responsibilities are; a lot of lawyers will also give a free consultation.....

    Patrick Bull an attorney licensed to practice in Massachusetts and can be reached at 978-457-9090, or by visiting his website at http://www.pfbull.com. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes ONLY and no attorney-client relationship has been formed by providing an answer to your question. The information provided should NOT be relied upon for making legal decisions. You will be best served by hiring a LOCAL attorney who specializes in the field of law you are asking about. Good Luck...


  2. I don't believe that a landlord can charge a late fee unless it is spelled out in the lease and even then, not before the rent is 30 days late. A landlord can evict you with proper notice and procedure. Here is some material for you to review.

    Mass. General Laws c. 186, s. 15B (1)(c) - law on late fees http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/186-15b.htm

    Consumer Protection Regulation - 940 CMR 3.17-3-a-3 - http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=cagoterminal&L=3&L0=Home&L1=Government&L2=AG's+Regulations&sid=Cago&b=terminalcontent&f=government_Regulations_940CMR3&csid=Cago#3.17: Landlord-Tenant

    Gary S. Sinclair is an attorney licensed to practice in Massachusetts. If you wish to contact me or any other attorney on AVVO, just click on the attorney's name and you will find contact information. All of my answers are based on Massachusetts law or a simple reading of the law in your jurisdiction. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to your question. The information provided should NOT be relied upon for making legal decisions. You will be best served by hiring an attorney in your area who specializes in the field of law pertinent to your question.


  3. A landlord cannot make you leave your apartment unless you agree to or a court orders you to. You do not need to leave just because you receive a notice to quit. That is simply the first step in an eviction. After that notice expires, the landlord would need to file a case in a local court. There are a number of different strategies you could pursue based on what sort of eviction the landlord tries to bring and whether or not you have a lease. You may want to consider consulting with an attorney to discuss the best way to proceed. A few general suggestions: if you live in Salem and the landlord does file an eviction case, it would be a good idea to transfer it to Northeast Housing Court if he files it in the local district court. The Housing Courts are a much better place for tenants because the judges are very familiar with the law and they have resources such as trained mediators. As part of an eviction, you are also permitted to raise any related counterclaims based on the landlord's mishandling of a security deposit or last month's rent, bad conditions in the apartment, the potentially illegal late fee, his refusal to accept your rent, etc. The law is very favorable to tenants in MA, so you would do well to educate yourself by speaking to an attorney, if possible, or seeking local legal services, which may be able to provide free advice. Best of luck to you.

    The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.


  4. A few questions for you that will determine your situation: 1) Do you have a lease or a tenancy at will? 2) Did the notice to quit specify a reason for the termination such as nonpayment of rent? 3) Have you recieved a notice to quit for nonpayment of rent in the last 12 months? 4) Does the notice to quit specify a vacate date of 10/27/12?

    If you have a written lease that is being terminated for nonpayment of rent, you are entitled to cure the breach by paying the amount due on or before the deadline for filing an answer in court once a summary process action is commenced. If you have a tenancy at will, you have the same right to cure, but only if you haven't received a notice to quit for nonpayment in the last 12 months.

    If your landlord is simply terminating your tenancy under a 30 day notice to quit without stating a reason, you may still have defenses to the eviction, but should consult with an attorney to determine what theyare.

    In any event, it sounds like you may have received a thirty day notice to quit that could potentially be defective because of the vacate date of 10/27. A thirty day notice to quit doesn't expire after thirty days, but rather expires on a date that rent is due. Assuming your rent is due on the first of the month, then the notice to quit you received may be defective and a defense to an eviction.

    Your next step should be to gather all of your rental documents, receipts, notices, communications with your landlord, etc. and consult an attorney.

    This "answer" is for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship.


  5. If you pay the rental money owing, and verify a late fee is authorized under your lease agreement and pay both, LL cannot begin the eviction process (at least not for the nonpayment of rent).

    READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I give a 100% effort to get you on the right track with your issue. Sometimes that means legal educational information, sometimes that means counseling and non-legal guidance. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.

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