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?

Asked almost 2 years ago - North Attleboro, MA

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

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Jon W. E. Rockwood

    Contributor Level 9

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    Answered . 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... more
  2. Christopher Saccardi

    Contributor Level 12

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    Answered . 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... more
  3. Anjali Gupta Stevenson

    Contributor Level 11

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    Answered . 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... more
  4. Christopher McHallam

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . 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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