Getting Possession of a Rental Unit
Getting possession of a rental unit is the primary goal of an eviction case. A successful eviction case allows a landlord to legally remove the tenant and their possessions from the rental unit. The formal court order that allows the landlord to do so is known as an execution, and the process of using this court order for getting possession of a rental unit is commonly referred to as levying the execution.
Eviction (known in Massachusetts as “summary process” cases) is the required, legal proceeding for obtaining possession of property. Massachusetts (like nearly all states) is a judicial eviction state: one must bring a formal court proceeding to remove a tenant. Attempting to remove a tenant without a court order, commonly known as a “self help” eviction, is a serious offense.
If the landlord wins the eviction case, or reaches an agreement for the tenant to move, the court will issue an execution for possession. This is the court order that permits a landlord to physically remove a tenant and their possessions from the rental unit.
Levying the Execution
The actual process of getting possession of a rental unit is commonly known as levying the execution. The tenant must be given 48 hours notice prior to the move out, and service of this notice must be made by a constable or sheriff. Levying an execution requires the landlord to pay for the moving and storage expenses. Needless to say, these expenses can add up.
Stay of Execution
A tenant is permitted to request a stay of execution if they believe they need more time to find a new place to live. The law is written to apply only for tenants involved in a “no-fault” eviction case, where the tenant is not behind on their rent or in violation of a term of their tenancy. Courts, however, commonly consider stays of execution for all types of tenancies, on the theory that courts have inherent power to manage the eviction process.
Getting possession of a rental unit is not an easy process, and if done incorrectly, can result in enormous costs and expenses that could otherwise be avoided. For this reason, speak to an experienced landlord-tenant attorney for assistance with such a matter.