You Got Evicted. Now What? Understanding Massachusetts Eviction Storage Laws

G.L. c 239 § 8A

The laws outlined in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 239, sections 3 & 4, provide essential protections for residents navigating through the challenging process of eviction or those who have already been evicted from their residences.

Legal Process and Requirements
If a tenant is unable to secure new housing after being evicted, the landlord is obligated by law to store the tenant’s belongings in an eviction storage facility licensed under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. However, this process comes with specific requirements for landlords which ensure fair treatment for evicted tenants and their property.

In order to lawfully evict a tenant and remove their belongings, landlords must obtain a court order known as an “execution.” A constable, authorized by the court, is the only individual allowed to carry out the eviction process physically. Tenants should receive written notice at least 48 hours in advance (excluding weekends and holidays) before the constable arrives to remove their property.

This notice must contain important information, including the constable’s arrival date and time, contact details, licensing information of the storage company, fee structure, and a statement regarding the potential sale of the unclaimed property after six months to cover unpaid storage fees.

Storage and Access to Belongings
Upon eviction, the constable is responsible for listing and documenting all removed items, providing the tenant a copy, and filing it with the court. Belongings must be transferred to a licensed public warehouse, within a “reasonable distance” of the place that you were renting, within seven days. A reasonable distance is generally defined as 20 miles. Tenants are also entitled to a receipt detailing storage rates, the procedure for reclaiming property, and the possibility of accessing belongings once for free. Tenants do not have the right to store their property for free, but they may request that their landlord voluntarily store it elsewhere.
Storage companies are mandated to charge only for the actual storage and must maintain receipts that comply with rates approved by the Department of Public Safety. While tenants are responsible for storage fees, landlords are typically responsible for the costs of moving property to storage and can seek reimbursement through legal channels if necessary.

Enforcing Your Rights and Seeking Recourse
Tenants have the right to access their stored property once for free, especially for items of personal or sentimental value. The law demands reasonable care for stored belongings, and tenants are encouraged to document any damage noticed during property access.

Violations of these laws by constables, landlords, or storage facilities can be reported to the attorney general’s office or the Department of Public Safety. Additionally, tenants have the option to file lawsuits in housing, district, or small claims courts for unfair treatment or violations.

Understanding these laws is vital, because as a tenant you have recourse and rights even after a court ruling. By comprehending the Massachusetts eviction storage laws, tenants can protect their belongings, and enforce their rights when facing an eviction.

If you are unable to secure new housing after being evicted, call JD Molleur Law at 508 – 407 – 8338. JD Molleur Law offers free phone consultations and, in many cases, will take on your legal matter for little to no cost.

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