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Couple renting a room refuses to pay rent/utilities

I have a spare room in the house that I own and live in. On January 11, 2009, I rented the spare room and private bath to a couple on a month-to-month basis. The agreement (verbal) was that rent was $900 at the beginning of the month, they would pay 2/3 of the utilities (cable/internet/gas/electricity), and $100 towards condo fees/snow removal.

Everything was fine until April 1, 2009 when I didn't receive the rent check. It is now April 17 and still no check. The female, who pays the bills, has been out of town for a death in the family. The male was here this week and since we have opposing schedules, I left him a note on the table last night asking for rent so I could pay my bills. This morning I received a very nasty message from the female telling me that she's not going to pay me anything more.. just use the security deposit. Well, between what they owe me and the damage they have done to my house, the security deposit still leaves a balance of $500.

My question is "what are my options?" Do I have to give them 14 days notice? By then our agreement will be up (we agreed that they would move out May 1) and they are from out of state so I will have little chance of recooping my loses.. Please help.

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You are right:  You will probably not recover your losses.  However, you need to serve them with a 14 day notice ASAP.  I know they say they will move out, but when people have had a taste of rent-free living, they get to like it.  Also, as you probably know, self help eviction (tossing them and their stuff out, is NOT an option in MA).  Good luck, and please tell your friends about The Forum.

A Constable served my roommates with a 14-day Notice-To-Quit. Shortly after receiving the notice, one of my roommates gave me a check for $300 which is about a 1/4 of what they owe me. My question is: Do I cash the check or not? Sounds silly but I don't want to cash it and have the courts construe it as me accepting a partial payment in lieu of a full payment.


Here is some basic information.  Your notice to quit should have included language informing tenants that (as long as they have not received a notice to quit for non-payment of rent within the last year) Massachusetts law gives them the right to reinstate the tenancy by paying the full amount due within 10 days of receiving the notice to quit.  If that language was not included, then they can prevent eviction by paying the FULL amount due any time before the answer date in court.  In either case, if you accept money from tenants after giving them a notice to quit (and you do not want them to remain as tenants) give them a receipt with the following language: "The above amount is accepted for use and occupancy only and does not create a new tenancy."    Good luck.

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