Inheriting a house can be a mixed blessing, particularly if you discover that someone is living in the property and you need them to leave. If you have found yourself in this situation in Massachusetts, there are several steps you can take to evict the occupant and regain control of the property.
Common reasons an eviction may be necessary
Below are some of the most common reasons you may need to proceed with an eviction on an inherited property:
- Non-payment of rent: If the occupant is a tenant and has not paid rent as agreed, you may have grounds for eviction. In this case, you must follow the legal eviction process and provide the tenant with the appropriate notice period.
- Property damage: If the occupant has caused significant damage to the property or is engaging in behavior that is endangering the property, you may have grounds for eviction. This may include failing to maintain the property or causing structural damage.
- Violation of lease terms: If the occupant has violated any of the terms of the lease agreement, you may have grounds for eviction. This may include subletting the property, having unauthorized pets, or violating noise or occupancy restrictions.
- Illegal activity: If the occupant is engaging in illegal activities on the property, such as drug dealing or other criminal activities, you may have grounds for eviction. In this case, you may need to involve law enforcement.
- Occupancy after expiration of lease: If the occupant’s lease has expired, and they have not vacated the property or signed a new lease agreement, you may have grounds for eviction. In this case, you must provide the tenant with the appropriate notice period before beginning the eviction process.
How to Evict an Occupant from a Property You Inherited
To evict someone from a property you inherited, below are several key steps you need to be aware of:
- Understand the legal requirements: Before starting the eviction process, it is essential to know the legal requirements in Massachusetts. You must understand the length of notice required before eviction can occur, the reasons that can be cited for eviction, and the eviction process. In Massachusetts, the notice period for evictions varies depending on the reason for the eviction. For nonpayment of rent, a 14-day notice is required. For violations of the lease agreement, a 30-day notice is required. For no-fault evictions, such as when a tenant’s lease has expired, a 90-day notice is required.
- Communicate with the occupant: It is always a good idea to try to communicate with the occupant and find a solution before starting the eviction process. Talking to them and exploring possible solutions can lead to a quicker and more amicable resolution.
- Serve a notice to quit: If you cannot reach an agreement with the occupant, you must serve a notice to quit. This legal document informs the occupant that they must vacate the property by a specific date. In Massachusetts, the notice period varies depending on the reason for the eviction.
- File a complaint for summary process: If the occupant does not leave the property by the date specified in the notice to quit, you must file a complaint for summary process with the court. This legal document formally begins the eviction process and includes specific information such as the reason for the eviction, the date the notice to quit was served, and the amount of rent owed (if applicable).
- Attend the court hearing: Once the complaint for summary process has been filed, a court hearing will be scheduled. It is crucial to attend this hearing and present your case to the judge. Providing evidence of the reasons for the eviction and the steps taken to resolve the situation amicably can help you win the case.
- Obtain a writ of possession: If the judge rules in your favor, a writ of possession will be issued. This allows a sheriff or constable to physically remove the occupant from the property.
How long does the eviction process take in Massachusetts?
The length of the eviction process in Massachusetts can vary depending on several factors, including the reason for the eviction, the complexity of the case, and the court’s schedule. It can take anywhere from several weeks to 6-12 months, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. It is important to seek legal advice and follow the proper procedures to ensure a smoother and quicker eviction process.
Tips to try to get the occupant of a property you inherited to leave
Here are some tips for trying to get an occupant to leave the property you inherited:
- Talk to the occupant: The first step in trying to get an occupant to leave is to have a conversation with them. Explain the situation and ask them to vacate the property. Try to be polite but firm, and make sure they understand that you have the legal right to ask them to leave.
- Offer incentives: If the occupant is reluctant to leave, you may want to consider offering them some incentives to vacate the property voluntarily. For example, you could offer to pay for their moving expenses or provide them with some extra time to find a new place to live.
- Get a mediator: If you are having difficulty communicating with the occupant, you may want to consider hiring a mediator to help facilitate the conversation. A mediator can help both parties communicate more effectively and find a mutually acceptable solution.
- Serve a notice to quit: If the occupant still refuses to vacate the property after you have tried to talk to them and offer incentives, you may need to serve them with a notice to quit. This is a legal document that informs the occupant that they have a certain amount of time to vacate the property or face legal action.
- Seek legal advice: If the occupant still refuses to leave after you have served them with a notice to quit, you may need to seek legal advice. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and guide you through the eviction process.
It is important to remember that evicting someone from a property is a legal process, and you must follow the appropriate procedures to avoid legal problems. It is also important to communicate clearly and respectfully with the occupant and try to find a mutually acceptable solution if possible.
In summary, evicting someone from an inherited house in Massachusetts can be a complicated and stressful process. Understanding the legal requirements, communicating with the occupant, and following the proper procedures can make the process smoother and quicker. Remember to always seek legal advice before starting the eviction process, as each case is unique and may require specific legal advice.