February 29, 2016
Landlords Rights a Guide to Evictions
While everyone may have the best intentions when renting a property, sometimes these situations do not work out. Here in this post- Landlords Rights a Guide to Evictions you can learn how these discrepancies come about. Maybe your tenant has stopped paying rent or damaged the apartment beyond normal wear-and-tear, and you are left with no choice but to evict the tenant. Unfortunately, evictions are likely to be a source of aggravation and unanticipated expenses for landlords. Massachusetts law generally favors tenants rights, so it is extremely important to know your rights as a landlord if you find yourself in a situation where eviction has become necessary.
When Is It Okay to Evict a Tenant?
You can begin eviction proceedings against a tenant for several reasons:
· Non-payment of rent. This is the most common reason for evictions.
· For cause, including things like unreasonable damage to the rental, allowing residents to live in the rental that are not on the lease, keeping non-approved pets in the rental, and other lease violations. These can be the most complicated because you will have to prove that the tenant has violated the lease agreement.
· No fault evictions. This occurs in a tenancy at will where there is no lease and the tenancy operates month to month.
· In certain cases, typically involving illegal activities by the tenant, an expedited eviction process may be available.
What Steps Must Be Taken to Evict?
In every eviction, the process must begin with a “Notice to Quit,” which serves the tenant with notice that the tenancy is terminated. For a non-payment case, the landlord must serve the tenant with a 14-day notice to quit. For lease violations, for-cause evictions, and no-fault evictions, the landlord must serve the tenant with a 30-day notice to quit. Though there is no specific requirement for how the notice must be served, the tenant must actually receive the notice. If the tenant says they never received it, then the notice has not adequately been given and the notice is ineffective. The notice must also state the specific end date of the tenancy, and in most cases, the landlord must state the reason for eviction. For example, if you want to evict a tenant for violation of a specific lease term, such as owning an unauthorized pet, the notice must state the specific violation.
If the tenant leaves the property, then the process is complete. Most likely, however, the tenant will not vacate the property, and the landlord will need to file a summary process action. Several actions must occur next according to a specific timeline:
· Service date: when the landlord must serve the tenant with a court summons and official complaint via an authorized sheriff;
· Entry date: when the landlord must file the notice, summons, and complaint with the court;
· Answer date: when the tenant’s answer must be filed, and;
· Trial date: when the landlord and tenant will actually appear in court.
It is extremely important to follow the timeline of procedures at this stage, as there are time limits on when each of these events may occur. This is where legal help is most imperative, as an experienced attorney can help ensure this process runs smoothly without any errors that can cause delays or, worse, cause your case to be dismissed.
What Steps Cannot Be Taken to Evict?
Landlords must follow certain rules in order to lawfully evict a tenant, otherwise the tenant could have legal grounds to sue or recover possession of the property. Examples of things you cannot do include:
· Changing the locks;
· Turning off heat or electricity;
· Physically removing the tenant’s belongings from the rental; and
· Entering the rental without the tenant’s permission.
The most important thing to remember is that a landlord cannot force a tenant to move out without proper permission from the court, otherwise the tenant may be able to recover possession and receive damages, including attorney’s fees, from the landlord. Until a judge orders the tenant to move, the tenant has the right to remain in the rental.
What If I Need More Information?
If you are involved in a landlord-tenant dispute in New Bedford and need an attorney’s help with eviction, let my experience work for you. Call Paul Santos Law at 508-996-0941 or contact me online for answers to all of your landlord-tenant eviction questions.