Levying an execution in a Massachusetts eviction case is the process by which a landlord, if they are successful in the eviction, is permitted to remove the tenant’s belongings from the rental property.
An execution for possession is a legal document that a court issues if it determines that a landlord is entitled to possession of the rental property. This occurs if the tenant defaults in the case (does not show up to court) or if the landlord prevails at trial. Following the court’s judgment, the tenant has ten days to appeal the decision. If the tenant appeals, the execution will not issue, pending the appeal’s resolution. If the tenant does not appeal, the clerk’s office will issue the execution.
After the execution is issued, the landlord must levy it. Levying an execution must be done by a Massachusetts sheriff or constable; a landlord cannot remove a tenant’s possessions on their own (doing so will get the landlord into serious trouble). A sheriff or constable is required to provide the tenant with 48 hours notice prior to levying the execution. Moreover, the landlord is responsible for making arrangements to store the tenant’s property after the execution has been levied. Needless to say, the costs of levying an execution can be significant: it is not unusual for this process to cost thousands of dollars.
A tenant facing the levying of an execution has the option of requesting that the court stay the execution. Under certain circumstances, the court will permit a tenant to stay beyond the time otherwise allowed.
Landlords should always be cognizant of the reality that levying an execution is time consuming and expensive. Whenever possible, landlords should attempt to work out resolutions with tenants that avoid this burdensome process.