Being a landlord in Massachusetts is tough. There are many traps for the unwary; a reason why landlords should always consult a landlord/tenant attorney on Massachusetts’s numerous housing laws. A good attorney can help landlords navigate these tricky waters and find the best way to resolve these complex matters.
There is one “sin” that is above everything else in matters of Massachusetts landlord/tenant law: an unlawful eviction. What’s an unlawful eviction? A unlawful eviction, sometimes known as a “self help eviction”, is an eviction done without a court process, such as changing the locks of an apartment or cutting off the utilities. These are attempts to evict a tenant without a court hearing and execution for possession. An unlawful eviction is just that: unlawful and illegal. Not only will an unlawful eviction subject a landlord to numerous civil penalties, it may even put them in jail.
A landlord who needs to evict a tenant must do so through a formal eviction (“summary process”) case. It doesn’t matter how much money a tenant owes, or how much damage a tenant has done: the failure to properly evict a tenant has enormous repercussions and should never, never be done.
If you are a landlord and need to evict a tenant, do the process properly by hiring a landlord/tenant attorney and bringing a lawful eviction against a tenant. The risks of an unlawful eviction just aren’t worth it.