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December 27, 2016 |

The Ins and Outs of Evicting Tenants For Cause

Most Massachusetts landlords are well aware of the overall process required to evict tenants. They may be less aware, however, that the reasons for evictions play an important role in the rules behind the actual eviction process. While the rules are relatively straightforward when evicting tenants for non-payment of rent or even for unspecified reasons, interpretation of the rules can become potentially murkier when evicting tenants for cause. These situations generally benefit from advice or support from an experienced Boston eviction attorney.

The Definition of "Just Cause" Covers Many Possible Situations

In a broad sense, the term, cause refers to an act by one party that justifies legal action by another party. The Massachusetts legislation pertaining to common nuisances categorizes cause for eviction into two primary groups:

  • Illegal acts: When tenants perform illegal acts anywhere on the premises of their rental units, landlords typically have the right to evict them on an expedited basis. Examples of illegal acts would be any actions connected with illegal drugs, inappropriate dispensation of alcohol, ownership of illegal firearms and a host of other crimes.
  • Actions that breach the lease agreement: Lease agreements can specify a long list of specific requirements for tenants, as long as those requirements are within legally-accepted boundaries. For example, tenants can face eviction when they keep pets in no-pet buildings, permit people to reside within units past the allowed time for visitors or violate other rules agreed to within a lease.

Evictions for cause require landlords to serve a notice to quit to tenants under specific timing requirements. However, they also require landlords to present compelling evidence of the tenants' violations in court. Of course, the tenants have the right to present their own evidence to dispute landlord cases.

Proving illegal acts might be an easier burden for landlords, particularly if they have police reports or other official evidence in hand. Developing an evidence-based case that alleges breaches of the lease can be more challenging since these claims might require witness testimony or other types of proof that can be more open to interpretation.

All Evictions Require a Legally-Valid Notice to Quit

Every type of eviction requires that landlords serve a notice to quit within certain time constraints, and they must be able to prove that the tenants received the notice. While all notices must contain certain specific language, additional language requirements can vary based on the reason for the eviction. Similarly, the timing of the notice can vary based on the reason for evictions. While criminal causes can qualify for expedited evictions, others can extend for 30 days or even longer, as determined by the court.

Evictions for cause can quickly become legally complex, so a recommended first step in the process is to seek knowledgeable legal advice on what to expect and how to prepare. Whether you need preliminary advice or full representation, call The Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannafin at (617) 848-4572 to learn more about your options.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information

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