The New York Times reports that evictions are on the rise across the United States, including Massachusetts, where eviction filings increased 11% between 2010 to 2013. The rise in these cases poses challenges not only to the parties in these cases, but also to the courts, who have to deal with increased caseloads, filings, and hearings.
The article cites several studies showing that the use of an attorney can make a real difference in these cases, a point I can attest to based on personal experience. In Massachusetts, the eviction process is not always “user friendly” and I encourage anyone involved in one of these cases to seek legal representation.
In landlord/tenant cases, “cash-for-keys” often comes up as a popular means of settling an eviction case. In a cash-for-keys settlement, the landlord agrees to pay the tenant(s) a sum of money to leave the premises by a required deadline. The payment of this money is often conditional upon the Tenant(s) leaving the premises in a clean condition and waiving any claims they might have against the landlord.
Landlords, understandably, are often reluctant to even consider a cash-for-keys settlement. Often, the tenant(s) owe the Landlord months worth of back rent, and the thought of the landlord paying the Tenant to leave seems absurd.
While I sympathize with these concerns, I strongly urge all of my Landlord clients to give a cash-for-keys settlement strong consideration when trying to eviction a Tenant. The reason for this is simple economics: a cash-for-keys offer can save a Landlord thousands of dollars in eviction costs (and time).
Landlords who pursue cash-for-keys settlements should make the payment conditional upon the tenants leaving the premises by a required deadline, and leaving the premises in “broom swept” condition. Landlords should ask the Tenants to waive any and all claims they may have against the Landlord, and agree that the landlord be allowed to discard any of the tenant’s possessions left behind after the vacate date. Landlords should also insist that Tenants waive any rights to appeal or stays of the execution (a court order that a tenant can seek for additional time in the premises following an eviction).
Tenants, in turn, should ask the Landlord to waive any claims that the Landlord may have against them, specifically owed rent. After moving out of the premises, Tenants should also take pictures of the property to prove that it has been cleaned out and, if possible, ask a friend or family member to be present so that a witness is available in case the Tenant’s move-out is ever disputed.
In need of assistance with this type of matter? Contact me for a consultation.