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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 33791
Experience:  Attorney for over 15 years, landlord 26 years
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MA here. **** Board member of nonprofit church-based

Customer Question

Hi! MA here. **** Board member of nonprofit church-based immigrant aid society allows *** **** to live in spare bedroom of his home. No rent, no written agreement. Guest pays no rent, eats their food, uses their bedding, towels, etc. Guest also it turns out has been stealing from the church/nonprofit. Homeowner/host is the treasurer of the nonprofit org that helps Guest. Guest stole checks over a 7 month period and has paid himself over $7,000 in illicit forged checks he cashed. Host is horrified, and host's wife is afraid to have Guest in the home any more. Guest has been there for 10 or 11 months thus far. He gets mail there, has a key, but does not have anything beyond clothes, small electronics, and other personal gear. Can homeowner/Host throw Guest out on basis of Guest stole from us/violated basic trust? Or is Guest now a nonpaying Tenant who must be evicted through the courts? Massachusetts law please. Help, we want him out NOW.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
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Expert:  barristerinky replied 3 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply,but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Unfortunately, you would legally be considered their landlord and the person is your tenant under an oral month to month tenancy. You would have to terminate it with a written 30 day notice delivered to the person and then file a formal eviction action in court if they didn't leave voluntarily...

In Massachusetts, a legal action to evict is called a "summary process" action. After the time specified in the Notice to Quit has expired, you or your lawyer will serve on the tenant a Summary Process Summons from the District Court or Housing Court (a summary process action may also be brought in Superior Court, but it is rarely done). It will state the date of the trial and the date by which the tenant may serve a written answer. If the tenant files "discovery," the trial will automatically be postponed for two weeks.

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Discovery is a legal request for information about your case. It can take the form of written questions "interrogatories"), requests for you to produce documents, or requests for you to admit certain facts. You must respond to the tenant's discovery within ten days of the day you receive it. You must be especially careful to respond promptly to Requests for Admissions. Any facts which you do not deny within the ten days, under penalties of perjury, may be deemed admitted for purposes of this lawsuit. Court rules also allow you to send discovery to the tenant.

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Jury trials are now available in Housing Court, Superior Court, and all District Courts. If you want a jury trial, you can claim it when you bring the action. Your tenant must claim a jury trial, if s/he wants one, no later than the date the answer is due. Otherwise, the trial will be before a judge sitting without a jury. Since jury trials are now available in all District Courts, it is no longer possible to appeal a summary process case from District Court to Superior Court for a new trial.

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At trial, you must prove your case with hard evidence. This is done with documents, records, and witnesses. But documents can only go so far. Our system of justice requires the testimony of live witnesses. A written statement from a witness is not admissible in court not even if it's notarized. The other side must have the opportunity to cross-examine the witness, and the court must be able to observe the witness in order to assess the witnesses credibility. This cannot be done with a written statement.

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After trial, the judge will usually take the matter under advisement. That means that you or your attorney will receive the decision in the mail. This can take anywhere from a few days to many months, depending on the complexity of the case. If the eviction is for non-payment of rent or for some other reason which is the tenant's fault (violation of lease provisions, unsanitary conditions, noise, etc.), a physical eviction can take place as soon as twelve days after the Court makes its decision.

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So, how long does this take - anywhere from 20 to 45 days. .

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister