Foreclosure Evictions: Disputing the Landlord’s Title

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According to Massachusetts’ law, only “the person entitled to the land or tenements may recover possession thereof” through the eviction process.  M.G.L. c. 239, sec. 1.

In other words, only the property’s rightful owner can evict a person from the real estate.

This law seems to imply that a tenant facing eviction could challenge his landlord’s title to the property.

But such a defense is usually not permitted.  See Connors v. Wick, 317 Mass. 628, 630 (1945).

There is, however, an exception to this general rule.

Massachusetts’ courts have held that a tenant may challenge a landlord’s ownership of the real estate at issue when “the property was purchased at a foreclosure sale.”  New England Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Wing, 191 Mass. 192, 195, (1906).

Therefore, if you’re a defendant in a post-foreclosure eviction, one of your best arguments–indeed, possibly your only feasible argument–will be to dispute your landlord’s ownership rights.

This can be done by hiring either a property attorney or a title examiner to scrutinize the foreclosure documents for any legal mistakes.

The average fee for such a service is typically between $200 and $350.

If you have any questions regarding landlord-tenant matters or real estate in general, please send me an email: justin@jrmccarthy.com

 

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