Landlord & Tenant Law – Evictions
Eviction – Generally
A landlord may not unilaterally evict a tenant; he or she must follow the proper notification procedures and obtain a court order when attempting to evict a tenant.
Types of Tenancy
If a tenant has a valid lease, usually referred to as a periodic tenant, the lease acts as a contract between the landlord and the tenant and usually expires on a specific date (generally one-year from the move-in date). If a tenant does not have signed lease, or if a tenant previously had a signed lease that expired but is still living in the space and paying rent, that tenant is considered a tenant-at-will.
Reasons for Eviction
In order to evict a tenant with a valid lease, a landlord must send valid notice and prove:
1) the tenant violated a term or terms of the lease;
2) the tenant failed to pay the agreed upon rent; and/or
3) the tenant was using the space for illegal purposes.
A landlord does not have to state any reason for wanting to evict a tenant-at-will in Massachusetts. However, he or she must still follow the proper notification procedure and obtain a court order to evict the tenant.
A landlord may not evict a tenant in retaliation for certain activities such as notifying the sanitation department or health department; withholding rent because of bad conditions; and/or taking legal action against the landlord. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for discriminatory purposes such as race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, ancestry, marital status, handicap or status as a veteran.
And under no circumstances may a landlord perform any of the following acts without first obtaining permission from the court:
1) move tenant belongings out of the leased space;
2) change a tenant’s locks;
3) shut-off a tenant’s utilities; and/or
4) interfere with a tenant’s use of the leased space.
If you are looking for professional representation during an eviction, or you would like a more detailed explanation of the eviction process, please feel free to contact Mikowski & Leonard, LLC for a completely free consultation. Our attorneys have experience representing landlords and tenants in both Housing Court and District Court.