What constitutes re-taking possesion of property?

I am a landlord and have a tenant whose lease ends at the end of this month. The tenant moved to a new house on the 28th of last month. Since the tenant vacated the house, I have since moved in some furniture for storage. I did not inform the tenant I would be doing this as I wrongfully assumed he would not care. He found out that I moved the furniture in, and is now claiming that I have “re-taken possesion of the property”. I sent him an email stating that I was not re-taking possesion of the property, and if the furniture bothered him, I would remove it. Now he wants the remainder.

Asked on July 16, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the tenant's lease ends the last day of this month, then unless he actually surrendered possession to you, you could not move furniture in for storage--that would constitute "taking possession," since you are using the space for your own purpose--until the earlier of:

1) the expiration of the lease;

2) the tenant is evicted (such as if he did not pay rent for July) through the courts  and you get a judgment of possession;

3) the tenant does in fact surrender possession to you, such as by returning the keys and indicating that he's permanently moved out.

Other than that, until lease expiration, surrender of possession, or eviction, the tenant has possession, not you, and you may not use the rental property.

 


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