Can my landlord sue me for damages after he forcibly evicted my boyfriend and I without going threw the courts?

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Can my landlord sue me for damages after he forcibly evicted my boyfriend and I without going threw the courts?

Landlord is my father. We were allowed to stay in the property for free, even though we offered rent. He than had the police remove us, saying we weren’t allowed to be there. Now he is suing for damages we did not commit. What defenses can we use?

Asked on December 19, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you were not paying rent--and it doesn't matter  if you were willing to; all that matters is whether you did--and did not have a lease, you were not tenants, but guests. If you were tenants, you'd have to be evicted through the courts; but guests who won't leave when told to become essentially trespassers, and the police may make them leave.

You only have to pay for damages if you caused them. If you don't pay voluntarily, your father would have to sue you to get the money. To prevail in court, he'd need to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (that is was more likely than not) that you caused the damage. You in turn may attack his evidence and/or present your own--including the testimony of yourself and your boyfriend--showing that you did not cause  the damage.


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