Understanding What Non-Payment of Rent Means for Massachusetts Landlords

An eviction action in Massachusetts is called a summary process. There are many reasons why Massachusetts landlords start eviction actions. Eviction actions can be the result of violations of the lease agreements, but the main reason for these types of actions is nonpayment of rent.

Marco Sandonato, a trusted and resourceful landlord/tenant lawyer, helps his clients with a wide range of landlord legal services, like making sure the leasing agreements you sign – whether for commercial or residential units – are comprehensive and in your favor. We also help our clients adhere to the eviction process so that you are able to evict the tenant in due time and promptly begin leasing the space again. Contact Sandonato Law to learn more about our landlord/tenant legal services. 

What Constitutes Non-Payment of Rent in Boston MA?

Non-payment of rent is governed by M.G.L. c. 186, §1. In Boston (as elsewhere), non-payment of rent occurs when a tenant does not pay his or her rent. Rent is due by a certain date, but most lease or rental agreements provide grace periods – typically three to five days long. 

Nonpayment of rent occurs after the grace period expires and you have not heard from the tenant. 

But if the tenant pays the rent, even after you have sent a notice of the commencement of the eviction process, rent has been paid.  

If the lease agreement allows you to charge a late fee, you can charge the fee, but you cannot continue with the eviction process if the tenant paid the rent but not the late fee. 

What Happens in Boston When an Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent is Contested?

When the residential eviction or commercial eviction action is contested, the tenant fights back by filing an answer with the housing court where the summons and complaint were filed. In some cases, the tenant will contest the eviction.

The tenant may try to assert rights to the leased space by showing, for example, that:

  1. you unlawfully tried to evict via "self-help" methods, meaning you took certain actions to try to force the tenant out by changing the locks of the unit, shutting off the utilities, or other actions; 
  2. you failed to comply with required eviction procedures – for example, maybe you did not give 14 days notice,  the notice did not have the right language, or service was not properly completed; or 
  3. you failed to keep the leased space fit and habitable – the rental unit must comply with code and all defects that affect the health, safety, or well-being of the tenant must be cured.

If the tenant is successful with the defense, the court may decide for the tenant, causing you to suffer a financial loss as well as the loss of time and frustration. This is why, in part, it is important you strictly comply with landlord/tenant law to make sure the summary process moves along without hiccups that can be detrimental to you. Marco Sandonato will guide you successfully through the process.

Can the Summary Process be Resolved Prior to Trial?

An eviction action can be resolved prior to court. This can occur when a tenant duly pays what is owed or the tenant and landlord resolve the case through mediation.

Regarding mediation, on the day of trial and at the Boston Housing Court, the clerk will call the names of all parties scheduled to appear. When each party's name is called, the party must confirm his attendance and declare if he wants to take part in mediation. If both you and the other party (i.e., the tenant) agree to mediation, you will be directed to the third floor to wait for the mediator. Mediation is a good alternative to a judge because it allows for more creative solutions and gives you more control over the end result.

What Should You Do If the Tenant Hasn't Paid Rent on a Leased Space in Boston?

If your tenant hasn't paid rent and you have done all that you can to reach out to the tenant to solve the problem on your own, contact an experienced landlord/tenant attorney in Boston. Marco Sandonato will review your case, lay out your best options, and help you move forward to resolve your legal issues timely and effectively. Contact his law office today either online or at 617-481-2742.

Free Initial Consultation

Your relationship with Sandonato Law starts with an initial consultation. This is a chance for us to really listen to you describe your problem or need as well as for you to see if you’re comfortable with Sandonato Law. You won’t be rushed and you will be heard.

Thoughtful Analysis. Creative Solutions.

Sandonato Law embodies the principle that if we can’t find a solution, we’ll make one. Maintaining relationships with other landlords, entrepreneurs, franchisees and consultants across the country keeps our ideas fresh. Sandonato Law is entirely focused on fighting for and creating winning solutions for you.

Office Location

21 McGrath Highway
Suite 405
Quincy, MA 02169