Can a Massachusetts Landlord Collect Rent After Serving an Eviction Notice?

By Peter Shapiro, The Good Landlord Consulting

Does collecting rent after you‘ve terminated a tenancy weaken your case if you end up in court?  Might it make eviction impossible altogether?  Would not accepting the rent in this case, even if the tenant offered it, make eviction easier?   If your answers are yes, you’re in good company — but fellow landlords, this is not the correct answer!

Gathered from a few recent exchanges on MassLandlords’ message board are some further thoughts on the matter.

Once a tenancy is terminated and your tenant is now ‘at sufferance’, you can still collect the rent without compromising your rights (although some judges will dismiss eviction cases if tenants show up in court ready to pay entire rent owed).  Whether the landlord wants a tenant out for no reason, or for cause such as nonpayment, please be aware, tenants may offer to pay you a full or partial monthly rent payment — and then do it again — even though the tenancy is terminated!

Landlords take heart!   Rent CAN be collected after tenancies are terminated WITHOUT re-establishing the tenancy – provided you communicate to the tenant that you are accepting the money FOR USE AND OCCUPANCY ONLY, and that you RESERVE YOUR RIGHTS.

For checks you can write FOR USE AND OCCUPANCY ONLY in the memo section and also tell the tenant in writing that you’ve accepted the money (date and amount received) for use and occupancy, and that you reserve your rights.  (Make sure to take a picture of the check for your records).  You can also communicate this directly if paid in another form (paypal, direct bank deposit etc.).   However you receive the rent, make sure the form of writing establishes a papertrail by using email, registered letter or another method that you can prove was received.

Lesson learned:  Eviction may be difficult enough without sacrificing monies that are rightfully yours!   You’ve earned it!

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