Landlord Can’t Orally Tell Tenant That They Are Evicted

Here’s a common scene that Massachusetts tenants face every day: A tenant lives in a three-family house where the landlord lives on the 1st floor. The landlord is very picky about everything that the tenant does. He gets upset if there’s too much noise from walking around the apartment. He gets upset if you cook something that smells too strong. Landlord Can’t Orally Tell Tenant That They Are Evicted.

Then one night the tenant parks in the landlord’s space and it’s the last straw. The landlord gets angry, bangs on the tenant’s door and tells him that he wants the tenant out by the end of the month and that he’s giving the tenant his 30-day notice to quit to get out of the apartment. Once again- Landlord Can’t Orally Tell Tenant That They Are Evicted

Landlord Can’t Orally Tell Tenant That They Are Evicted Why?

Can a Massachusetts landlord just give a verbal notice to quit without putting it in writing?

The short answer is no. Landlord Can’t Orally Tell Tenant That They Are Evicted

Massachusetts has Strict Landlord-Tenant Laws About How an Eviction Can Be Performed

Landlord Can't Orally Tell Tenant That They Are Evicted

There are certain instances when a landlord can evict a Massachusetts tenant. For example, a landlord can evict a tenant for non-payment of rent. Or, a landlord can evict a tenant for violations of a written lease agreement (if it states that the landlord can evict for that specific violation) or the use of the apartment for illegal activities. Finally, a landlord can evict a tenant for any lawful reason, such as wanting to get possession back of the unit.

Massachusetts landlord-tenant law, however, is very specific about how a tenant can be evicted from their apartment or rental home.

A landlord cannot remove you from your apartment or home without first getting permission from the court. If a term in the lease agreement says the landlord can evict you without going to court, that term is illegal and the landlord still must receive permission and an order from the court in order to evict you.

To be lawfully evicted, you must first receive a written “notice to quit.” This must give the tenant 14 days notice if being evicted for not paying rent or 30 days for any of the other reasons discussed above. There may be different timelines for notice outlined in your lease agreement, if you have one.

Without a written notice to quit, a landlord cannot evict you. The tenancy ends either 14 or 30 days (depending on the reason for the eviction) after being given the notice to quit.  If you do not move out by the date on the notice to quit, then you are now a ‘tenant at sufferance” and you may still owe your landlord rent for “use and occupancy.”

If you haven’t moved out, though, your landlord must now serve you a summons and complaint to properly evict you. Once your landlord files the complaint with the court, you have a chance to respond with your side of the story. If you choose to fight the eviction, the court can either dismiss the case (you will not be evicted) or have it proceed to trial.

After the trial, the court will make a decision on the eviction. If the court determines that the landlord can evict you, you have 10 days to appeal the court’s decision. If you do not appeal within the 10 days, the landlord will get an “execution,” which requires him to have a sheriff or constable move you out within 48 hours.

What to Do When a Landlord Tries to Evict You

As you can see, a landlord cannot just orally tell you to get out. There are certain procedures under the law that the landlord must follow to legally remove you from your apartment or home. If the landlord violates these rules, you may even have a claim for damages against your landlord.

If you are facing an unlawful eviction, you should consult with a lawyer or conduct further research to find out what rights you may have. You can read more evictions here.

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