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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 30368
Experience:  JA Mentor
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My tenant has not paid her rent for the last month. She gave

Customer Question

My tenant has not paid her rent for the last month. She gave me a check which was returned to my bank for insufficient funds. We have since signed a purchase and sale agreement and tried to deliver a letter of notice last night but the tenant will not answer the door, the phone or respond to e-mail. Her car is parked outside the home with all shades in the house down and no lights on. What are my rights?
Thank you.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 6 years ago.

My name is Lucy and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

If the tenant has a lease, the lease actually transfers to the new owner. That means that, under ordinary circumstances, she wouldn't have to leave at all. Now, your situation is a little different, because she owes unpaid rent. Massachusetts law requires 14 days' written notice before a landlord may evict a tenant. G. L. c. 186, Section 11. The notice to quit must contain the following language: “If you have not received a notice to quit for nonpayment of rent within the last twelve months, you have a right to prevent termination of your tenancy by paying or tendering to your landlord, your landlord’s attorney or the person to whom you customarily pay your rent the full amount of rent due within ten days after your receipt of this notice.” Section 12.

If she fails to respond, you'll be able to go to the landlord/tenant court and file what is called a Summary Process action to evict her. These actions must be filed on special paper, but you can get the form at the courthouse (the fee is $5 in most counties). If she pays at any time before the trial, you must allow her to stay.

If she doesn't have a lease, you can still evict her for non-payment of rent. However, you would also have the option of serving her a notice to inform her that her lease will automatically terminate in one month. Section 12. If you want her out by October 1, that notice would need to be served today.

Good luck.