Advice from a Housing Court Judge

We recently spoke with a housing court judge about the eviction process and other areas of the law. Here are some things we learned: 

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_naypong'> / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

  • If a tenant breaks a rental agreement and leaves early, landlords must return the security deposit within 30 days of the last day of occupancy. 30 days after the rental agreement end-date will be too late.
  • In an eviction, you can ask for attorney’s fees to be awarded as part of the judgment. If you do, it will depend on the judge whether or not you get them. The best way to increase your chances are
    • Have the rental agreement stipulate attorneys fees, and
    • Make sure the attorney actually comes with you or represents you in court (phone consults outside of court wouldn’t be enough)
  • A tenant who receives any public assistance is 100% judgment proof. You cannot collect unpaid rent from them unless they get off public assistance entirely.
    • Judgments last for 20 years, so set a reminder to investigate their situation from time to time, if you feel the debt must be collected.

2 Responses to Advice from a Housing Court Judge

  1. sherma a says:

    Hello,

    I am in the execution process stage, got the execution letter and now trying to find a constable, locksmith, movers. I would like to hear more feedback on if a landlord wins a judgement, cause tenant violated the lease, why the landlord who wasn’t at fault needs to pays for movers and storage.
    The landlord has already been victimized by the professional tenant and going through the whole system of housing court, attorney fees, yet pay move and store for the at faulted tenant.
    Now after the judgement the tenant decides to stop payment,and stay in the apartment its almost 2 months of non payment, I have to find money for constable, locksmith and movers.
    I would like the court have tenants that has violates leases and found at fault by the judge to pay for their own move and store through some kind of court system.
    I would like more feedback on post judgments, after the judgement how can landlord ask for attorney fees(tenant doesn’t receive public assistance/nor vouchers) even though the lease mention tenant pays for legal fees if they violate the lease. I would like to know how to collect the back payment from the tenant when they decide not to pay after the judgement,and the cost of moving storage, locksmith and constable.

    Thanks

    • Doug Quattrochi says:

      Sherma,

      I’m sorry you have had a bad court experience. Most of our members would agree with you that having the landlords pay for moving plus three months of storage is excessive if not wrong. Unfortunately, the law as currently written puts us in this position.

      As a member, you should post your questions about attorneys fees, funding the move-and-store to our message boards. Let us know if you want help with this, we can be reached at hello@masslandlords.net.

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