December 31, 2018 | Share
What To Do After You Receive a Notice to Quit: Defenses to Eviction
The first thing a Boston eviction defense lawyer will tell you after you receive a notice to quit your rental home is, “Don’t panic.”
You have options and you have defenses. So take a deep breath and let’s walk through them.
Procedures for Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent
While a landlord may have a legal right to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent there is a process that must be followed. And that process takes time.
Massachusetts law requires the landlord to provide the tenant with a notice to quit, stating that the tenant has 14 days to either pay the rent that is due or the landlord will terminate the lease and require the tenant to move out of the rental unit.
It is important to understand, however, that the 14-day notice is just the beginning of the eviction process. You do not have to actually move out by the fourteenth day. Rather, the landlord has to wait 14 days before he or she can file an eviction lawsuit with the court.
The landlord files a summons and complaint with the court. You receive a copy of these papers, which you must answer before the due date provided and explain why you are not paying rent.
Avoiding Eviction Through Payment of Rent Due
The easiest way to avoid eviction for nonpayment of rent is to pay the rent on or before the 14-day notice to quit time period expires.
If you don’t meet this deadline, but still plan on avoiding eviction by paying rent, you have a second chance to do so. If you have been served with the landlord’s summons and complaint, you can pay the rent due, plus any interest and court costs, during the time period for answering the complaint. If this is paid on time, the eviction has to stop and you can stay in your rental home.
Defenses to Eviction
If you do not pay rent by the date the answer is required, or if you did pay rent but the landlord is trying to evict you on other lease violations, then you must answer the complaint and explain why you should not be evicted.
Depending on your circumstances, there are several defenses you can bring up, including:
- The landlord used illegal eviction procedures, such as changing the locks or shutting off utilities
- The landlord failed to follow the proper eviction procedures as set forth in the lease and pursuant to state law
- The landlord did not maintain the rental unit in a fit and habitable manner
- The landlord is discriminating against you in violation of the Fair Housing Act and/or the Massachusetts Antidiscrimination Law.
A Boston Eviction Defense Lawyer Can Help
In order to defend against eviction, precise procedures need to be followed and defenses need to be properly presented. A Boston eviction defense lawyer is in the best position to advise you about your options and likelihood of prevailing and, if necessary, represent you during the process.
Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information