Some frequently asked questions regarding Eviction Law

Can my landlord evict me immediately?

No. A landlord can only evict a tenant with the court’s permission.  They cannot change the locks, shut off you utilities, or remove your belongings immediately. If they do so, call the police, as it is a crime.

How must my landlord begin eviction proceedings?

  1. Give you a document called a “Notice to Quit.”  
    1. A 14-Day Notice means your landlord claims that you owe them rent 
    2. A 30-Day Notice means your landlord is evicting you for no reason or of no fault of their own 
    3. A Notice with no days given means that your landlord is accusing you of conducing illegal activity on the property 
  2. Serve you with a Summary Process Summons and Complaint 
    1. This court document tells you that your landlord is seeking the court’s permission to evict you. The document will inform you of the date, time, and location of your hearing in court. You must file an Answer to your landlord’s Complaint by the deadline given in the document. 

How do I fight the eviction?

  1. Fill out a court form called an “Answer”. Use this form to provide reasons why the court should not allow you to be evicted and problems you have had with the landlord. Make sure to file your Answer with the court before the deadline listed on the Summons and Complaint you received already. 
  2. Go to your hearing date at the courthouse. If you miss this hearing, you will likely lose by default. Talk to your employer and coordinate care for you children because you may be in court all day. 
  3. If your landlord has not properly followed the eviction procedure, you can ask the judge to dismiss the eviction case by making a “Motion to Dismiss”. 
  4. If you the judge decides that the eviction should move forward, you have two options: 
    1. Ask the judge for a “Stay of Execution”, which will give you extra time to find a new residence and relocate. 
    2. Appeal the judge’s decision within 10 days of the original judge’s ruling.

(Content Adapted from Mass.gov https://www.mass.gov/topics/eviction)

Can my landlord evict me as retaliation?

No. It is illegal for your landlord to evict you as retaliation for: 

    • Withholding rent due to unsafe conditions 
    • Reporting your landlord for health code violations 
    • Taking legal action against your landlord 
    • Joining a tenants organizing group 
    • Seeking a restraining order against someone who has abused or harassed you 
    • Reporting to police an incident of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or stalking 

Is this something I need to do all on my own?

No. Being faced with the uncertainty of eviction is a very emotional and stressful challenge. You will need an attorney with legal experience and expertise to guide you through the eviction process.

Justice Bridge attorneys assist clients facing eviction in a way that is effective, yet affordable by helping clients properly fill out court paperwork and navigate the eviction process from start to end. 

(Content Adapted from Mass.gov https://www.mass.gov/topics/eviction) 


Related Guides

By Justice Bridge 292 views