Holdover Tenants

Holdover tenants are tenants who remain in rental property after their leases have ended. These are tenants who have “overstayed their welcome” and do not have the landlord’s permission to remain in the property.

Holdover tenants, importantly, are not trespassers. A trespasser is someone who enters property without having permission to do so. A holdover tenant, in comparison, had permission to be in the rental unit at one point, but no longer does so.

No Self-Help

Massachusetts, like most states, requires a legal eviction case to obtain possession against a tenant . . . even one who is a holdover. Anything other than a formal eviction case, such as changing the apartment locks or shutting off the utilities, is strictly prohibited and will get a landlord into serious trouble.

Evicting a Holdover Tenant

To get rid of a holdover tenant, a landlord needs to do an eviction. The process of evicting a holdover tenant is similar to a typical eviction case. However, a landlord is not legally required to provide a notice to quit to a holdover tenant (known in the law as a tenant at sufferance).

Although a notice to quit is not required, it is still a good idea. I generally provide a 72 hour notice to quit is these matters, which tends to be favored by judges in these cases.


As with most landlord-tenant matters, it is worth having an experience landlord-tenant attorney on your side. If you need assistance with such a matter, contact me for a consultation.