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Self-Help Eviction and the MA Consumer Protection Act

My landlord recently gave me a notice to quit for being late on my rent on Jan. 20. A day after I receive the notice I paid him the rent. He tells me that I still have to be out of the apartment by the night of Feb. 3 and that he does not have to receive a court order to have me removed because he lives in the building with less than three apartments. What should I do?  (Posted by Singer on the Forum.)


Editor's Response:


I think the landlord is wrong. By accepting your rent, he may have reestablished the tenancy. Also, I know of no law that allows any type of 'self-help' eviction. He needs a court order before he can get a constable to evict you. If he disagrees, you may need to go to the housing court to get an injunction. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 186, Sections 14 and 15F, a landlord that attempts a self-help eviction may be liable for the tenant's actual damages or damages in an amount equal to three month's rent, whichever is greater, plus attorney's fees. Also, in such a situation, the tenant may have a claim for damages under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, MGL Chapter 93A.


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