Representation and Guidance Through the Maze of Massachusetts Eviction Law
As a result of the Covid pandemic, Massachusetts has instituted an eviction moratorium prohibiting beginning, or proceeding, with most evictions until after October 17, 2020. This date may be extended by the State depending on how the pandemic progresses. This prohibition makes no exceptions for non-payment of rent evictions. There are special notices that landlords and tenants must complete in cases of non-payment.
Removing a problem tenant can be frustrating. Evictions can be long and difficult. Many landlords feel they are able to operate their property as they see fit. Nothing can be further from the truth. Massachusetts housing law is highly regulated. It contains many procedures, and requirements, outlining the terms under which housing may be rented. There are many traps for the unwary landlord. Your first Massachusetts eviction can be eye opening. Most of the traps a landlord might trigger provide a minimum financial penalty of three times the monthly rent and payment of the tenant’s attorney’s fees. The law also has many other protections for tenants. These competing laws come into play during the initial letting of a property and during eviction process, commonly referred to as “summary process.” Unfortunately, for any landlord who finds himself having to evict a tenant who has not paid rent for several months, the legal process will seem to be anything but “summary.” Landlords can find themselves confronted with numerous defenses involving the condition of the apartment during the tenancy, the allocation of utility expenses and the manner in which any security deposit taken has been collected and maintained.
Our office has extensive experience in not only dealing with Massachusetts evictions but with prosecuting, and defending, claimed of violations of the State Sanitary Code brought by a local Board of Health; rent withholding allegations by tenants based on warranty of habitability issues (M.G.L. Ch 239 §8A) including mold and lead paint contamination; consumer protection complaints (M.G.L. Ch 93A); and complaints of security deposit violations (M.G.L. Ch 186 §15.) For over 30 years we have represented landlords, and in select instances tenants, in claims brought in both the Massachusetts District Court system (Attleboro, Taunton and Wrentham) and in the specialized Southeastern Division of the Housing Court Department created for this area of the law.