Home Karen Morrison, Plaintiff v. James Theriault, Defendant


December 31, 2019

Housing Court, Southeast Division



This is a summary process action brought to recover possession of the subject rental premises located at 151 North Street, Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. The parties initially appeared on November 25, 2019 for the scheduled trial and after several hours of testimony the matter was continued until December 2, 2019 for completion of trial.

After hearing testimony, reviewing the evidence submitted by the parties and drawing reasonable inferences therefrom the Court finds the following;

1. That the Defendant resides at and the Plaintiff owns the property located at 151 North Street, Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. ("Premises").

2. That the parties entered into a written "lease" agreement ("agreement") concerning the Defendants occupation and rental of the premises on or about July 25, 2016.

3. That this agreement expired by its own term on or about July 25, 2019.

4. That relevant terms of the agreement were drafted by the Defendant.

5. That the agreement states, "Rent will paid in exchange for a remodel of house."

6. That the agreement elaborated certain general terms and scope of the work to be done.

7. That there is no writing executed by or between the parties concerning the sale of the property.

8. That the Defendant has held over after the termination of the agreement.

9. That the Plaintiff caused to be delivered a 30 day notice to quit by last and usual place of abode and by postage paid 1st class mail to the Defendant(s) on April 4, 2019.

10. The Court finds the notice to quit submitted into evidence to be legally insufficient for the purposes intended.

In order to prevail in a summary process action the Landlord must present a prima facie case in support of the underlying action. G.L. c. 186, ยง12 provides, in pertinent part: "Estates at will may be determined by either party by three months' notice in writing for that purpose given to the other party; and, if the rent reserved is payable at periods of less than three months, the time of such notice shall be sufficient if it is equal to the interval between the days of payment or thirty days, whichever is longer..."

In the case at bar, the Plaintiff served, and the Defendant admitted receiving, a purported 30 day notice to quit on April 4, 2019. The Court finds under the terms of the lease the "rent" payable [Note 1] would take greater than 30 days to pay and thus under the terms of G.L. c. 186, s. 12, a 90 Day notice to quit is required. As such, the Notice to Quit provided to the Defendant is insufficient to meet the standard necessary to establish a prima facie case supporting the Landlord's eviction action. The only avenue available for the Court at this point is to dismiss the case without prejudice.


For the above stated reasons,

1. This matter is dismissed without prejudice and without costs.



[Note 1] In this case the rent considered by the parties was the renovation and repair of the premises by the Defendant which apparently took far longer than 30 days to complete.