The first and most important thing to know about eviction law in Massachusetts is that a landlord cannot make a tenant move out of her home without going to court first. No matter what a landlord or a landlord's lawyer says, a landlord must go to court and obtain permission from a judge to evict a tenant.
If you get an eviction notice and you want to stay in your apartment or you want more time to find a new place, you must respond quickly to any documents you receive. Depending on your situation and whether the landlord has followed the law, you may be able to prevent the eviction. If you cannot prevent it, you still may be able to postpone it. In either case, if your landlord has violated certain laws, you may be entitled to money to compensate you for these violations.
If you do not defend yourself in an eviction case, chances are a judge will order you to move out and you will have missed the opportunity to raise any legal claims or negotiate an agreement about how to resolve the issues.
This chapter tells you how the eviction process works, what rights you have throughout the process, how you can prevent an eviction, and how you might be able to postpone an eviction while you find another place to live.
This chapter does not take the place of having a lawyer or provide you with every detail involving evictions. But it will, along with forms at the end of the book, give you enough information so that you can protect your rights.