South Yarmouth, MA asked in Landlord - Tenant for Massachusetts

Q: I recieved a 30 day notice to quit. I was asked to vacate on May 1, 2018. What are my rights?

With the spring/summer season upon us, I am not able to find an affordable year round home. How do I get more time? At least until September/October

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2 Lawyer Answers
John Espinosa
John Espinosa
Answered
  • Lowell, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: Sounds like you are a tenant at will without a lease. Here are some relevant resources:

https://www.masslegalhelp.org/housing/lt1-chapter-4-tenants-at-will

https://www.masslegalhelp.org/legal-tactics

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-responding-to-an-eviction-for-tenants

Sandra Singer Esq
Sandra Singer Esq
Answered

A: The landlord can not evict you without a court order. If you do not leave when the landlord requests the landlord will have to file an eviction case and get a court order before you have to leave. This can take months or in some cases years before there is a court order. There is a right to a jury trial in summary process (eviction cases).

In some limited circumstances where the tenant has engaged in criminal activity on the property the landlord can get a restraining order barring the tenant but still a court order is required. This is faster then a summary process (eviction case) but even here the tenant has a right to a jury trial.

When the landlord files an eviction case for either no fault or non payment of rent you can file a counterclaim if there are grounds for such. If the tenant prevails on their counterclaim the tenant can win not only money from the landlord but a judgement for possession of the dwelling meaning you can stay in the home. The court can order the tenant to pay any rent money you owe by a set date in giving the tenant the judgement of possession.

If the landlord files in court to evict you, If you file and serve interrogatories (written questions for the landlord) by the date the answer is due the date of the first court hearing is automatically post phoned for 2 weeks, so this also gives you more time in the home

Also this question was posted on April 10, 2018. For tenants at will (without a lease) in most cases which are not for non payment of rent a landlord is required to serve the tenant a notice of termination of tenancy and notice to quit equal to the interval between the days of payment or thirty days, whichever is longer (for non payment of rent the notice to quit must be give 14 days notice). If the landlord served you on April 10 requesting you leave by May 1 that is less then 30 days, so the notice to quit is invalid. Thus if this is what occurred you can file a motion to dismiss the eviction case for failing to serve a valid notice to quit. If the court grants your motion the eviction case is dismissed and the landlord has to start all over meaning more time in the home.

Many (but not all) courts have mediation services provided for free. Perhaps you can work something out with the landlord in which the landlord agrees to let you stay until an agreed date say September or October in exchange for which you drop your case against him. Such an agreement could mean that the landlord will get the judgement and execution if you do not leave by the agreed upon date.

Some of the within has very strict deadline dates. I have not seen any documents in this case nor are all the facts clear. Thus some of the this may not apply to your case. This is general information only and not intended to be a replacement for your consulting with a lawyer.

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