If a tenat failed tp give a 30 day notice, can a landlord have the locks changed and not allow the tenant access to their belongings until rent is received?

I have lived in a friend’s house for the past 1.5 years with a verbal rent agreement. When I informed her I was leaving she had the locks changed within 2 days and has not allowed me access to my belongings for the past 10 days. She just recently asked me to send the check in the mail and then she will allow me 14 days to get my belongings out of her house. I would like to know what the law is regarding this situation.

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Assuming you have a situation where rent is due by a tenant occupying a rental and the tenant failed toi give the landlord thirty days notice of termination of the lease, the landlord cannot legally change the locks before the tenant has moved out as a means of forcing overdue rental payment.

Any lock change before move out would essentially violate many state statutes on the issue and case law uniformally in place throughout this country. A landlord cannot use self help as you have written to get over due rent payment.

I would write your landlord about the wrongful conduct that has happened requesting access by a certain date. Keep a copy of the letter for future use.

I suggest that you consult with a landlord tenant attorney over the situation you are writing about.

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