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I have been living with my mom for almost 2 years to take care of her because she was ill. I was never added to the lease but everyone knew I was living here. She has recently passed away and now her landlord is saying I have to leave . She was on section 8 and they to knew I was living here with my 2 small children . I have offered to pay the rent at market value until her lease is up or until I find an apartment. My question is what is my legal right

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Submitted Fri, 02/17/2017 - 09:29

There are several different types of tenancies in Massachusetts. Your mother had a written tenancy with a lease. You were legally allowed as an occupant of the apartment under that lease. Especially if Section 8 was informed that you were living there, by accepting the vouchers your landlord accepted you being there. However, when your mother died, it will have terminated the obligations of both her and the landlord under the lease.

When the lease terminates, you lose your legal right to be there, however this doesn't mean the landlord can just kick you out. A person who once had a right to be in a rental unit and then loses that right becomes a tenant at sufferance. Since you don't have a tenancy, the landlord doesn't have to send you any notice, but he still must go to court to evict you. He would have to file a summary process eviction case with the court to get you out. The landlord has to take you to court and your are entitled to a trial. Only a court can actually order you out of the unit after a hearing/trial. After the court orders the eviction, the landlord would have to go to the sheriff to enforce it. If the landlord changes the locks or does anything to prevent you from entering the apartment or removes any of your belongings himself, that is an illegal self help eviction.

You don't say whether you have paid the landlord any rent since your mother passed? If he accepted rent, then you may have created a separate tenancy at will with the landlord. If he accepted rent, and created a tenancy at will, you currently have our own tenancy. Before proceeding with the eviction process outlined above, the landlord would have to send you a 30 day notice to quit. This notice has to be served at least one full rental month before you are being asked to leave. This means that a notice served by February 28, would only be effective to ask you to leave at the end of March. If you don't leave, he can then file an eviction. An improper notice to quit is a defense to an eviction.

If you would like further assistance or legal help with this matter, feel free to contact my office at 617-859-8966 or e-mail me directly at

Atty David Owens
Grolman LLP

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