Served a notice to quit? Don’t panic, do THIS instead
Among all the things you can experience in your adult life, being served a notice to quit is probably among the most terrifying. Officially, your landlord has begun the legal procedure to have you evicted and you have been served a notice to quit; what now?
A notice to quit is usually the first step in the legal process involved to remove a tenant from a property and we know that receiving this notice can feel daunting most of the time. Nevertheless, you do not have to panic. Know that there are MA renters’ laws that are enacted to protect MA tenant rights, and here, we are going to teach you exactly what they are and how to know if you have a right to fight the eviction and probably get compensated for your trouble as well.
A good Massachusetts tenant lawyer will help you know your rights during this time and be able to accurately determine whether or not they are being violated. We are a team of consumer rights attorneys based in Massachusetts and we’d love to help. Just give us a call at 877-700-5790 to get started.
What kind of notice to quit were you given?
You can be served one of two types of notice to quit.
- A summary eviction notice
- A formal eviction notice
A summary eviction notice
Just as the name suggests, a summary eviction notice is issued, giving the tenant 10 or less days to respond. The 10 days exclude holidays, weekends and the day you received the notice.
A formal eviction notice
Usually with a 30-day notice period attached, a formal eviction notice usually comes when your lease has expired, or when the property has been sold.
What are my rights as a renter in Massachusetts?
In order to help you clearly determine your rights and when they are being violated, we will briefly go over MA tenant laws and what they stipulate as tenant rights. As a tenant in Massachusetts, you have the right to:
- A safe and habitable place to leave
- No discrimination
- Have your security deposit returned to you on time
- A notice of eviction giving you ample time before it is carried out
If your Massachusetts landlord has failed to provide you with any of the rights listed above, then they may be in violation of the law, and you should speak to a Massachusetts tenant lawyer by calling 877-700-5790 immediately.
How to respond to a notice to quit
You have several options regarding how you choose to respond to a quit notice:
- Pay your delinquent rent if you have rent that is past due.
- Honor the timeframe that has been allotted to you to move out.
- Go to the judicial court to file an answer. A hearing will be held to determine if the summary eviction order will go through.
- File a motion to stay
Note that even if you file an answer with the judicial court and the summary eviction order is overturned, your landlord may still file a formal notice to quit. If it was an issue of delinquent rent, then paying your rent should solve the problem. If the summary eviction is granted in the hearing, then your Massachusetts landlord may engage the local law enforcement agency and begin the eviction process.
Instead of filing an answer with the judicial court, your MA tenant rights allow you to file a motion to stay which means that you can remain on the property for up to 10 days while you get your personal affairs sorted out.
Is there another option?
Oftentimes, your landlord doesn’t really want to evict you, they have only resorted to doing so because they are out of options.
In such situations, dialoguing with your landlord (or getting your Massachusetts tenant lawyer to do so) can be the only thing you need to do to get your landlord to withdraw the quit notice.
You can call 877-700-5790 to get more advice or to inquire about how we can talk to your landlord on your behalf.
Are you being evicted illegally?
Illegal eviction happens when your landlord fails to follow MA tenant laws when serving you a notice to quit or trying to get you evicted.
The thing with being illegally evicted is that you may not even know that your landlord is evicting you illegally. Read on to know if you have been served an illegal notice to quit and what you can do about it.
How do I know if I am being evicted illegally?
You may be being evicted illegally if your landlord fails to:
- Provide you an official quit notice.
- File an eviction lawsuit.
- Give you ample time.
- Obtain a judgement for possession before proceeding
You may also be facing an unlawful eviction if:
- You are certain that the grounds for your eviction are purely discriminatory.
- Your landlord is evicting you as a retaliation for something.
- Your landlord is evicting you because you have refused to pay rent until they address a health, maintenance, or safety issue.
- Your landlord has changed the locks without going through the formal eviction process.
- Your landlord shuts off utilities in a bid to get you out.
- Your landlord removed your belongings from the property without first obtaining a judgement for possession.
- Your landlord has acted in a menacing, harassing, or threatening way towards you in an effort to have you vacate the property.
What can you do if you are wrongfully evicted?
If you take only one thing from this article, then let it be this: no landlord has permission to trample on your rights as a tenant. You can take your Massachusetts landlord to court and get compensated for your trouble; you just have to know your rights.
How much can I sue for?
In the state of Massachusetts, the law says that you can sue your landlord for an amount equivalent to the value of 3 months’ rent on the property or for three times the value of actual damages incurred, whichever is more.
In addition, the state will provide your court costs and attorney fees and in cases when an eviction does move ahead, the court may still grant your motion to stay.
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