lEGAl qUESTIONS & ANSWErS This is Part 1 of a new series with Attorney Russell Chin, who will respond to questions submitted by our readers and provide insight into common legal problems. The advice is intended for the general readership and no attorney-client relationship, expressed or implied, is established by this column.
Please feel free to send your legal questions to Russel L. Chin, Esq., at email@example.com Judy writes, I have a tenant who refuses to leave despite the fact that the lease expired. Can I change the locks and force them to move? The landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts are unique and complex. Both sides would do well to understand their rights and obligations before making any hasty decisions. Clearly, a landlord may not lock out a tenant for any reason without first obtaining court authority. Tenants have many rights and due process requirements must be met before a landlord may evict. Some years ago, I was involved in the eviction of a tenant and her 17 cats. She refused to pack or leave despite losing a protracted court battle, thereby obligating the landlord to hire a constable and pay movers for 15 hours to inventory, pack, and store all of the tenant’s worldly belongings.
The landlord must first determine what type of tenancy relationship exists. There are two main types of tenancies: one is at will and one is under a lease. Those operating under a lease are required to follow the terms of the lease. When the lease expires, the relationship becomes a tenancy at will. In general, under a tenancy at will, the landlord or tenant can terminate the relationship by giving notice that is equal to the interval between the number of days of payment or thirty (30) days, whichever is longer. A landlord can easily obtain a Notice to Quit from a legal stationery store, a constable, a rental housing association, or even on-line. If the tenant refuses to leave, the landlord must begin an eviction proceeding (known as Summary Process) and produce a copy of the written Notice to Quit in court
with proof that the tenant received notification of the end of the tenancy. Most evictions are brought for non-payment of rent, although in this case, the tenant is holding over beyond the lease term while continuing to pay rent. If a tenancy at will is being terminated for nonpayment of rent, the landlord must give a written fourteen (14) days Notice to Quit to the tenant. Again, one can easily obtain this notice. Please be aware that there are two types of 14-day notices—one for at will and one when a lease is still in effect. In Judy’s case, even though she had a lease, it has expired and since a new lease was not signed, the tenancy has automatically converted to at will. Remember, she risks renewing the tenant relationship if rent is accepted after the Notice to Quit is served, which would then require starting the eviction process all over again.
SAVE A lIFE!
Improve Your Floor Finishing Business!
By Professor Lenore Azaroff, UMASS Lowell Do you sand and finish wood floors for a living? When is the last time you had a fire? Sometimes, homes are scorched or completely destroyed, or people are badly burned or killed by floor finishing fires. Fortunately, you can take preventive measures to help keep you safe and make your business profitable. Avoid Using Flammable Products Do you use lacquer sealers? Many lacquer sealers are flammable. This means that the vapor from the product can catch fire easily at temperatures below 100ºF (38ºC). Vapors from products can travel quickly. They can move into other rooms, up stairs, or into basements. Just one spark can start a fire in those vapors. Where do the sparks come from? Just about anything: pilot lights in water heaters or stoves; hitting a nail or staple in the floor; friction from rubbing cloth. Fires have started when floor finishing vapors traveled into the basement to a water heater many rooms away from the floor work. Sadly, 3 local workers have been killed since 2004. How Can I Know Which Products are Flammable? All products have information on documents called Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Every MSDS lists a flash point. That means the vapors won’t catch fire easily at low temperatures. Ask your supplier for products with flash points above 100ºF (38ºC). Local suppliers, including Boston Wood Floors and Capitol Wood, will help select non-flammable products for you. To learn ways to improve your business, protect your customers’ property, and save your health, Viet-AID and the Dorchester Occupational Health Initiative are sponsoring free training seminars and advice from experts in the floor finishing field. Participants will win coupons for floor finishing products!
Please contact Viet-AID for more information: Thu Truong: 617-822-3717 x18 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Hoa Mai: 617-822-3717 x22 email: email@example.com 1 0 ASIAN | BOSTON
C O N N E C T I N G C U LT U R E S
Issue 3 (Asian Boston Magazine)