Tips for those facing Eviction in Massachusetts
Facing eviction is a tough and scary time. Knowing some basics about evictions may help your chances of not being evicted.
Will my landlord just throw me out or change the locks on his own?No, in Massachusetts only a Judge can order you to be evicted. A landlord must provide you with adequate notice of why he is seeking to evict you and in essence terminate your tenancy.
Can I ONLY be thrown out for not paying my rent on time?No, the landlord can also seek to evict you if you or others within your control cause excessive damage or violate terms of your lease. This can be a tricky one to understand. As a tenant you have the right to quiet enjoyment of your premises but so do others that are living around you. If you or those under your control are violating their quiet enjoyment or causing excessive damage to the property the landlord may seek to have evict you. But your landlord can't do this on his own and must first serve you with a Notice to Quit. The Notice will typically be either be a 14-day notice (if you are not paying your rent) or be a shorter notice for other violations (your lease will provide the notice requirement you may have for other terminations). If you are facing a 14-day Notice to Quit for not paying your rent, you have the right to pay the back rent and remain in the apartment. However, you must pay the back rent with interest and the landlord's costs for filing the eviction action on or before the date your answer is due. The answer is your response to his eviction action.
What if I don't have a lease?Then most likely you are a tenant at will and will still get a 14-day notice to quit for non-payment of rent. If your tenancy is being terminated for any other reason you must be given written notice of 30 days or one full rental period - whichever is longer. If you are being evicted for failure to pay your rent then you too would have a right to stay in the apartment by paying the back rent. However, it must be within 10 days of receiving the notice and be the first time within the past 12 months that your received the notice or if no statement of revival is made in the notice then you have till the date the answer is due.
Do I need an Attorney?It is always in your best interest to seek the guidance of an Attorney when you are facing an eviction. An Attorney can provide you with a guideline on defenses or possible counter-claims you may have against the landlord.