So I'm a tenant at will but have someone subletting from me. This kid has been awful the whole time. Leaves the door unlocked at least 3 times a week, had his girlfriend move in after I told him no, is a complete slob, and so many other things. I finally had enough and told him he has 3 months to move out. A whole three months to try to not completely screw him over! He didn't have a lot of money. I asked him to pay some of the money he's behind on for the electric. I asked if he can pay for him and his gf who wasn't supposed to be living here. He refused. He put in his a.c. two months ago. Long before I had mine in. He's refusing to take that out. The apartments in my name. Nothing is in his. We have old wiring that can easily start a fire and he's constantly leaving it on while he goes to work and then threatened me with legal action when I told him I was going to go into his room to turn it off. I'm aware more then likely nothing would come of that but it's nor worth the headache. What is the best course of action? At this point it's the 13th and he still hasn't even paid rent this month. Someone please help.
Is there a sublet agreement? Is he a tenant at will? I would definitely not recommend shutting off the electricity to his room as that is illegal. What you can do, is try to evict him.
If there is a sublease, you can evict him for any violation of that lease including not paying rent. If he's a tenant at will (no lease), you don't need a reason but you do need to send him a Notice to Quit.
Eviction can be difficult and time consuming, not to mention the fact that you are trying to evict someone who is living with you. I've attached a link with some information that I hope will shed some light on your options. Best of luck to you...
It's important to remember, that if you have a sublettor, that person is a tenant and YOU are their landlord. This means that all the same rules that apply to any other landlord apply to you. As a result, there are several problems you are facing with your situation here. First off, unless you have an agreement in writing, you CANNOT legally charge a tenant for electricity. You also cannot "shut off" electricity or other utilities to any tenant for lack of payment. Either of those things is a violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment under MGL c. 186 §14 (seen here: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleI/Chapter186/Section14) and can subject you to damages of three months rent, or the actual amount of damages (such as the amount they paid for utiliies so far) whichever is MORE, and their attorneys fees if they sue you. Your tenant is also correct that if he's renting a room from you, you don't have any right to enter that room without his permission or a court order, which is a second violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment (although one that's unlikely to be enforced by a court in a roommate situation.)
Also, if the tenant has a lease, or written agreement, you cannot terminate the lease early, unless he violates something in the written agreement. If he does not have a lease, and is a tenant-at-will, you can terminate the lease on 30 days AND 1 full rental period notice, but you must do so using a written notice to quit. Simply informing him you want him to leave isn't sufficient. If he refuses to leave, your only option is to go to court and file an eviction. Anything that you do to try and "force" him to leave, instead of going to court, will be another violation.
If he hasn't paid rent for the month, you can also evict him for non-payment of rent. This would STILL involve sending him a notice to quit, although only for a 14 day period. He has 10 days to get current on rent, or move out by the 14th day. If he doesn't move out, you have to go to court and file an eviction.
I am a Massachusetts attorney and answer questions based on Massachusetts law. The above answer is for educational purposes only and does not create an attorney client relationship or constitute legal advice.
I agree with my colleagues. You absolutely cannot shut off the electricity. If there is no written sublease, he's at will. Serve him properly with a proper 30-day notice to quit (if rent due on the 1st, then you must serve him with a notice terminating the tenancy on Aug. 31 between now and July 31, and you must serve it by sheriff or constable). If he hasn't left by Aug. 31, you start eviction proceedings in court. Has to be done that way. Yes, you can use the shorter 14-day notice for non-payment of rent, but if he miraculously comes up with all the rent due, you are back to square one. So, your call on that. Use the 14-day notice if you know he can't come up with the money, but the 30 day notice is the safer bet.
To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state (in WV, on inactive status as of 9/13), I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.
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