Landlording in Massachusetts

4 Replies

Hi everybody,

I'm in the middle of my first single-family home purchase and closing is scheduled for the end of this month. The only problem is that there is currently a tenant in the house. I was told that a they have to be out before closing, but also heard a few people say they have to be out for a certain amount of time before I can close. I'm in Massachusetts, so is there a certain amount of time that I would have to wait before closing to ensure a vacant house? Also, what is the best place to look up rental laws?

Thank you all for the help!

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Talk to the Seller's agent. They should have already given the Tenant written notice. I personally want tenants out 1-2 weeks prior to closing so there's plenty of time for the seller to inspect and clean/repair before I do my final walkthrough and then close on the home. If you wait until the last minute, who knows what condition the tenants will leave it in.

@Lisa Dreher   Here's a place to look up landlord/tenant laws: https://www.mass.gov/guides/th...

I hope you're being represented by a good Realtor and/or attorney. 

If the tenant refuses to leave, you could be in real trouble.  A "professional tenant" in MA can tie you up in court for a year, without paying you a cent in rent or utilities.  Self-help evictions in MA can land you in very hot water with the courts.  Just don't.

Hopefully your P&S states that the property is to be delivered vacant and broom clean.

You should do a final walk through on your way to the closing table.  If you find that the tenant is still there, refuse to close.  Alternatively, you should demand a hold back of funds sufficient to resolve a hostile, contested eviction.  I'd suggest $15,000 or so.

Likewise if it's left full of garbage, hold back funds sufficient to get the junk hauled away and left broom clean. 

In either case, document the condition with photos and bring those to closing.

I'm not aware of any requirement that a property be vacant for "X" amount of time prior to closing.  Ask your attorney, but I believe that's wrong.

Good luck!

@Charlie MacPherson So helpful, thank you! Luckily I've got a good attorney who has rewritten the P&S specifically to protect against this tenant in case they refuse to leave. Will certainly take your advice and be sure to walk through the property once they're out before closing and hold back funds if needed. Thanks again.