Law Office of Michael B. Mangano

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My Tenant’s Not Paying

Lets face it, when a tenant does not pay his/her rent, your rental property is probably not profitable.  Times are tough and a lot of people are having trouble paying their bills, but without your rental income, how are you suppose to satisfy your own obligations?   It is better to address the situation as soon as it arises so you do not lose months of rental income.

It is important to know that you can NEVER just throw your tenant’s belongings out into the street and lock him/her out.  I repeat, YOU CAN NEVER USE SELF HELP FOR NON-PAYMENT OF RENT!  By doing so, you will create a whole other problem.

This is what the typical eviction entails:

  1. Notice to Quit
  2. Summary Process
  3. Entry Date
  4. Trial Date
  5. Entry of Judgment
  6. Appeal
  7. Execution
  8. Eviction
  9. Notice of Eviction
  10.  Sheriff Can Move Tenant out

This is quite the list, and I will be honest, I left out some other areas for readability.  It is a difficult process to evict someone in Massachusetts if you do not know what you are doing, so please consult a lawyer if you feel overwhelmed.  This will overview the basic skeleton of what you should expect.

Notice to Quit: The notice to quit is the legalee for: the document that tells the person to vacate, your tenancy is being terminated.  There is no real format that needs to be followed, but the document should include the current date and the vacate date, it should also be so certain that it cannot be reasonably misunderstood to be a document other than one telling the tenant to vacate.  Be cognizant of whether this is a tenancy at will or a lease.  This is because, if it is a lease, your notice to quit must comply with the terms of the lease agreement.  This document can be sent in a variety of way, but best practice would be to have a sheriff or constable serve the notice to quite.  This way the tenant cannot deny delivery.

Summary Process:  Also known as the summons and complaint, which are the legal documents that start the eviction process.  These documents tells the tenant why the landlord is evicting them and why they terminated the tenancy.  It is important to know that it cannot be filed until after a tenant refuses to leave after the vacate date on the notice to quit.  In addition, it must be delivered to the tenant by a sheriff or constable.

Entry Date:  Is the deadline by which a landlord must actually enter or file the complaint with the court and prove that he/she has served the papers on the tenant. This is a statutorily prescribed time that will require you to do some research or ask for assistance.

Trial Date:  The date that the trial is held, unless the tenant files a discovery form or transfer form.

Entry of Judgment: Almost at the end.  The court is now able to enter judgment, and they can enter a judgment as early as the day after the court makes its decision.  Meaning, the court will hear a case and then make a ruling, based upon the argument presented.  This decision can come as early as the day after the case being argued.

Appeal: Tenant or landlord must appeal within 10 days from the entry of judgment.

Execution:  This is the prize.  This is the document that a landlord is waiting for.  The landlord can get this document from the court and give it to a sheriff to serve.  The Sheriff serves the execution on the tenants, which tells the tenant that the landlord now has the leal authority to have him removed from the property.

Notice of Eviction:  The notice of eviction is the process of the Sheriff delivering the Notice of Execution.  It tells the tenant that he has 48-hours to vacate by order of the court.

Sheriff Can Move Tenant Out:  If the tenant refuses to leave, the Sheriff can now move the tenant out after the 48-hours has expired.

This is a lengthy process.  It typically takes two months to evict someone who does not want to leave.  It should be noted that it typically takes an experienced person at least two months to evict a tenant.  If for some reason a step is missed in the procedure, or an error is made, you may need to restart the process from the beginning.

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