Rental Basics in Boston>Question Details

debbaker51, Home Buyer in Quincy, MA

I own a 2 family and rent the 2nd unit out. My current tenant hasn't paid me March/April rent. He has signed a paper agreeing to:

Asked by debbaker51, Quincy, MA Mon May 6, 2013

pay me the rent due, use last month's rent for May, and vacate the premises by the end of May (thus cutting the lease 3 months short). Is there anything else I can do to insure I get paid? I am so scared that he is going to leave me in the lurch without a forwarding address.

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George Wood’s answer
Dear Debbaker,

I'm currently a Real Estate agent, but I have also been a landlord for the better part of the last two decades. I have been a property manager as well.

The absolute FIRST thing I would do is have a "14-day Notice To Quit" served. It'll cost you a few bucks, but most people, when they start to realize the consequences of cheating their landlords, will see the light and pay up. If they don't or can't pay up, you have begun the eviction process and after 14 days elapse without payment you can proceed to the next step. The clerk at the courthouse can walk you through the process. Be certain to follow every step to the letter! The reason evictions can be dragged out for months and months is that the process isn't done properly/completely so you keep having to start over. I found a good overview for your consideration at…

In the end, if you use the courts (which you pay for every time you write a check for property tax anyway, so why not use them?) you should receive a judgement in your favor. That judgement is something you can use to guarantee they actually move out some day, and is something you can bring to a credit reporting agency. The credit score factor will leverage your odds of actually seeing the money you are owed some day. Without you clearing their debt, finding a new place to live is not going to be a picnic for them, nor will buying a car, getting a credit card, cell-phone, etc... An eviction order will also show up as a civil court appearance and make future landlords unwilling to take a risk on them.

Hopefully this gets you going in the right direction. If you don't already have a working relationship with somebody in the Real Estate business, form one ASAP. If you throw some business their way every once in a while, they'll be there for you when you need some help with whatever issues come up.

George Wood
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 7, 2013
I agree with all answers. I had a friend of mine who went after the tenant with atty. and in the end it ended up being more costly ($$) than to just let the tenant off the hook.

Best Of Luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 7, 2013
Your priority should be to get the tenant out of the property. The reality is that you are unlikely to get any money from this tenant. It will likely cost more than the value of the rent to use a lawyer and even if you get an award in small claims court, you have to still get paid. On your next tenant please make sure to use a realtor - have the tenant pay the fee, it can make your selection much more controlled.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 6, 2013
The realty is, if he had it, you would get it. My instincts tell me he doesn't. Cut your losses and make sure he is out. It would cost you more if he continued to stay and not pay you rent. It could take up to six motnhs to evict him. Keep hounding him for the rent. But do not bank on it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 6, 2013
I would suggest the same. Please contact counsel for how to proceed from here.
You can also start eviction proceeding for non-payment.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 6, 2013
I would suggest you speak with an attorney that specializes in landlord / tenant law as soon as possible - Emil Ward at 617-202-5200 specializes in landlord / tenant issues in the Boston area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 6, 2013
Ask for a time frame as to when it will be paid -- and hold him to this time frame -- let him know that you will file an eviction notice if he does not pay -- you will not have to evict if he leaves on time but it will be on public records -- so it will be harder for him the next time he looks for an apartment -- but like the last broker stated getting him out is more important than the money -- do not dwell on this just learn from it -- next time check all references on all future tenants -- good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 6, 2013
You can always take him to court (after he moves) and get a judgement against him for the money if he doesn't pay. The main thing is to have him vacate the property so that you can re-rent it. Having the unit available to rerent is actually more important than the money. (I know that sounds strange, but it's true!)

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 6, 2013
I'm a landlord as well. I understand the dillema. If he can pay the months of March & April and use the last month for May before leaving, then I would say go for it. I would definitely insist on getting the months of March and April before leaving.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 6, 2013
I have a gut feeling that he is going to skip out on me. He owes the oil man $1000! Should I take him to small claims now (before he leaves in 25 days) so someone/somewhere has his number/address?
Flag Mon May 6, 2013
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