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Can a landlord lock your items in the basement with no intent to give them to you, after you get a 30 day notice?

Milford, MA |

I have lived here for 4 1/2 years and I was given a room in the basement to use for storage as well as put my stackable washer and dryer down there to use. He and I recently got in an argument and he gave me a 30 day notice to leave. Its only been 2 days and he is telling me that if I dont get my stuff out of the basement by tomorrow that he is going to padlock the basement door. Also, thats where the circuit breakers are and this apartment blows fuses about 5x a day due to faulty electricity. Can he legally do this?

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Attorney answers 2


I am sorry that you have to deal with this frustrating situation. A 30-day notice to quit does not change the terms of a tenancy so if you had access to the basement before, you still should now, until a court determines otherwise. You may want to consult an attorney regarding potential defenses and counterclaims that you may be able to bring against the landlord. Faulty wiring is likely a violation of the state sanitary code for which the landlord could be liable to you for monetary damages. Depending on the type of tenancy you have and the particular circumstances of your case, you may also be able to bring a claim of retaliation against the landlord. If the landlord does lock your things in the basement, you may also want to seek a court order, in the form of a temporary restraining order, to allow you access to them.
Good luck!

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Almost certainly not.

That is something referred to as "self-help" and it is almost always barred under Massachusetts law.

There are some complex exceptions which may apply to certain situations. But if you have a fairly standard situation (i.e. if you have your own apartment with your own key) it is a near certainty that he cannot lock you out.

You may be interested to know that a lockout is generally a violation of MGL 186 s14 which carries an AUTOMATIC penalty of three month's rent plus attorneys fees. So if you do get locked out, you should immediately contact an attorney.

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