Massachusetts Eviction: How Much Rent is Owed?

8 Replies

Hello everyone.  I'm starting the Summary Process in Massachusetts for a tenant.  My first one! She is being evicted for nonpayment.  She receives an assistance check, and she said she is not receiving this check anymore, and therefore has no money to pay me, no way of getting a car to get a job.  I receive rent directly from her, this was not a housing subsidy.

I'm filling out the portion where it says how much rent is due, and I have a question about it.  My tenant's payments were as follows:

July: $875 (full amount)

August: $800 (lots of excuses, figured partial was better than nothing)

September: $0

14 Day Notice to Quit served on Sept 24.

My question is: Since I have terminated her tenancy with the NTQ, does she owe me rent for October?  I have to itemize the rent owed, and I obviously want to list the correct amount owed.  I don't expect to see any of this money owed, though.

I would hire an attorney, but I think it's important to educate myself on these matters.  If I hired someone for every step of the way, I wouldn't know as much.  And much thanks to Bigger Pockets!

Nothing I read here is considered legal advice, and so on.

Every state is different but I would think that August is gone because you accepted partial payment. If you wanted to collect the full amount for August you probably should have refused the partial payment and served the Pay or Quit notice in August. At this point your probably asking the court for September and October. And possibly through the end of your lease term.

IMHO, the best way to educate yourself is to use an attorney the first time..  Taking free advice off the internet, not the best way to go.

First I agree with Phil that it is a good idea to use an attorney, at least the first time.

MA is not a good place for landlords and the statutory dates are long compared to most places so if you make any kind of mistake along the way you might have to restart the whole process which can set you back months.

Thankfully I have not had to do an MA eviction since 2008 and I used an attorney, so only going with vague memories but I think you would count the $75 they owe for August and the September and October.  Don't recall if they ask about fees but at this point you would be able to tack on the 30 day late fee (Yeah can't charge a late fee in MA until it is 30 days late!) for August and September.

In this case I do THINK that the most that would happen is assuming you win and are awarded damages the judge might say "You accepted a partial payment in August so I'm not giving you that" vs. throwing out the case or anything stupid.

Thanks for the advice everyone.  It sounds like an attorney might be the right way to go, since it's my first time.  With all the technicalities, and Massachusetts being so tenant friendly, it's probably a wise choice. Estimated cost for an eviction attorney's fees?  Or does it vary wildly based upon different factors?

For the two properties we've purchased, the only tenants we've had problems with are ones we inherited!  Thanks for the help everyone.

Also Phil, I realize the intent of your message, but don't discredit "free advice on the internet".  The wonderful resource of Bigger Pockets is exactly that :) 

@Christopher Reynolds  , I contacted a couple attorneys in Worcester about eviction costs and they both said the same thing..."it depends."   If you want them to just send notices, expect to pay $200-$300.  If you need them to actually show up in court, expect to pay their hourly fee + court costs + attorney's expenses (like copies).  Hopefully the notice to quit is enough to convince them to move on!

@Christopher Reynolds

Educating yourself on an Eviction in MA will be very expensive.

JunkYard Dog used to get a retainer of $1k but said most of the members of our REIA messed it up so bad before he got it, then would not follow his advice to the LETTER, that he raised the retainer to $2k.

How did this turn out Chris?  Curious locals want to know. :)

Ah yes! Here's how it went.

Hired a local attorney, showed him the steps I took before hiring him. He was apprehensive, as most of the people who start before hiring him usually screw it up, and they need to start completely over.. He said everything I did was fine, and we could proceed without starting anything over. Made me feel good about the homework I did to that point. 

We went to housing court, and sat before the mediator. The mediator reviewed the facts, and told my tenant that the judge would almost certainly remove her from the apartment within a week or two, unless we could come to an agreement. 

Nobody said anything for a while, and I came up with an idea. The apartment was always relatively clean, and I suggested if she was to leave the apartment in the same condition it had always been in when I had seen it, if she agreed to me keeping her security deposit, I would let her stay until the end of December so the agency that was helping her could have time to get her a new place. She started crying and thanked me.

This is my business and I take it very seriously, but the lady has kids, and she would literally be thrown on the street if we hadn't come to the agreement. My attorney shook my hand and said I did a good thing. I could have put another couple months rent into my pocket with another tenant, but I would have felt bad about everything if I had done that. I feel like I made a good decision for everyone.

I'm finishing up doing some renovations and painting in the apartment right now, and I'm signing a lease with a new tenant on Sunday. Happy times. Thank you everyone for the advice. People like you are why this community is so wonderful.

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