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My landlord sent my wife and me a "Notice to Quit" requiring we move by end of February 2013. Does the law require us to SIGN?

North Attleboro, MA |

Reason given - Leaking boiler. Repairs extensive will adversely impact our family room in lower level.

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

If you are a tenant at will, your landlord can terminate your tenancy for any reason or for no reason at all, with what is commonly referred to as a "30 Day Notice." (The exception is for non-payment, which requires a 14 day notice.) Keep in mind though that receiving a notice to quit, and even though it says "quit and deliver up" does not mean that you have to actually move at the end of those 30 days, or in your case, the end of February. The purpose of the notice is to terminate (i.e., formally end) your tenancy. That is the first required step a landlord must take if he/she wants to evict you. You may choose to move during that time frame, but you don't have to. (The Landlord can not use "self-help" which means to change your locks. If he/she does, it is a crime.) If you don't move, then and only then can the landlord start an eviction action against you. In your case, the notice expires at the end of February 2013. If the Landlord starts and eviction case as soon as he can, you will be served with papers (called a Summary Process Summons and Complaint) on March 4, 2013. That summons will tell you that your court date (in the Attleboro District Court) will be on Thursday, March 21, 2013. Let's say you go to court that day and the Judge says you have to get out. Even though the Judge makes this ruling right then and there, the Court Order the Landlord needs to legally move you out does not get sent out until another 10 days pass, which in your case would be at the earliest April 1, 2013 (due to our overwhelmed civil clerk's offices, it often does not get issued for some days after it is supposed to be). Then, once the Landlord gets the Execution for Possession, he must give it to a Constable, who then must post it on your door giving you another 48 hour notice. Only at the end of that 48 hour time frame can the Constable return with a mover and physically remove your belongings from the rental unit. In your case, the absolute earliest date that could happen looks to be about April 4, 2013. Again, this is under the best (i.e., quickest) circumstances. There are steps you can take to legally prolong this process even more. Here's the point: if your Landlord does everything properly, at some point you will most likely have to move. But don't panic, because as you see Massachusetts landlord/tenant laws are designed to give you ample time to find a new place to live. Some may say our laws are designed to give Landlords gray hair and ulcers, but that's another story. Last thing, never sign a Notice to Quit. You are not required to, and you can't be made to. Sit tight for now, maybe start looking around, and call a lawyer in your area the minute you get that Summons and Complaint on Monday, March 4, 2013.

This response contains general information about the question posted and does not contain any specific legal advice. The information is not intended to, nor does it, establish an attorney-client relationship between the questioner and the attorney providing the answer. The questioner should retain legal counsel for specific adivice regarding his or her specific legal needs.

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5 comments

Asker

Posted

Thanks so very, very much. You brought my pounding heart to a normal rate with this great advise. One thing that makes it particularly difficult for us to find an apartment, is the fact that my wife has had two total knee replacement surgerys, so stairs are a challenge. When you couple that with the fact that we will both be 60 years old in September, my wife is a manager, I am a Bridge Project Manager for the MassDOT currently responsible for 9 projects now in cnstruction and 6 active bridge projects in design which requires me to regular coordinate many contractural and design matters as well as conduct Design Public Hearings to name just a few of my many managerial duties. Mr. Rockwood, please be assure that I am not trying to get something for nothing. My wife and I are simply seeking a FAIR, REASONABLE & UNBIASED RESOLUTION of this matter, which through no fault of our own put us in this unenviable position. If you can represent my wife and I, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to have you represent us. What do you think? Sincerely yours, Bill Brown

Jon W. E. Rockwood

Jon W. E. Rockwood

Posted

Hello Mr. Brown, I would be happy to meet with you and Mrs. Brown to discuss possibly representing you. My office number is (508) 668-0059 and my email address is jonrockwood@comcast.net. Thank you. Please contact me at your convenience and we can set up a time to meet.

Bruce H Murray

Bruce H Murray

Posted

One to note though is you will still have to pay to live there. They call it use and occupancy as opposed to "rent". You don't get to stay for free.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. I do understand, and do not expect to stay or live anywhere for free. That is the furthest thing from my wife and my mind. Being almost 60 years old, we are way too old to take the "I am not going to pay rent" approach. In any event, since I do not plan to sign the 'Notice to Quit' he sent us, can I simply pay the rent on the 1st of February or is the a different more legal procedure?

Bruce H Murray

Bruce H Murray

Posted

You can certainly pay the rent and should at least tender (offer/give) it to the landlord. If they accept it they will probably endorse the check as being for use and occupancy only, not as "rent". If for some reason they won't accept it, then hold onto it so that when it is time to pay you have the money. It will also demonstrate your good faith when and if it ever gets to court. Best of luck to you.

Posted

Do you have a written lease? Take a look at it and see if it addresses this situation. If there is no lease--if you are month to month, or a tenant at will--then either you or your landlord can terminate the tenancy with 30 days notice.

This information is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney-client privilege or relationship between Anjali Gupta Stevenson Law Office, LLC and the reader. This information is for general purposes.

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Posted

I agree with the advice of the previous attorney. I would add that you may wish you speak with an attorney as situations like yours can often result in a negotiated settlement whereby they pay you to leave. And you should always remember that you don't have to leave by the date stated in a notice to quit if you believe you have a basis to challenge it in court since you would have an opportunity to raise potential defenses and/or counterclaims. A landlord cannot remove someone in MA without the approval of a court. An attorney would be able to take a look at your documents (esp. the lease) and give you advice as to your potential options.

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.

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Christopher Saccardi

Christopher Saccardi

Posted

I would also add that you do not need to sign for a notice to quit. The burden is on the landlord to prove receipt, which is usually done through service by a constable.

Posted

To the extent your question is asking whether you are required to sign a notice to quit terminating a tenancy at will, the answer is no. By law, a notice to quit can be served by personal delivery made by a constable or sherieff or by a process server leaving a copy of the notice to quit on your door with a copy of the notice also being mailed to your last known address.

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