• How laws in Massachusetts allow people to be professional tenants

    By: John Monahan , Kathryn Shehade

    Updated:

    HULL, Mass. - Linda Walls has been living at 23 Revere St. in Hull for more than a year and a half, yet so far, she's only paid three months rent.

    Documents from the former homeowner show the balance she owed was $2,700, but they sold the house and never collected.

    Walls still lives there and still has not paid rent.   

    Greg Gray and Mark Musco knew Linda was in the house when they bought it in June.

    "We were looking for a property to flip and we found a friend getting rid of theirs. That she was in there and not paying and they were in the process of evicting her," they told FOX25. 

    The business partners assumed the eviction, which was underway, would happen soon. However, attorney Alan Segal, who specializes in eviction law, said landlords need to be fully aware of the law. 

    "You really have to know what you're doing if you’re going to be a landlord in Massachusetts because the laws are strictly construed and they do favor the tenants," said Segal. 

    Segal said with an existing tenant a new owner becomes the new landlord and the eviction process must start from scratch. Gray and Musco didn't want to be landlords, they just wanted to flip the house.

    "This person was in there legitimately at one time renting a room. The rights they had from the prior owner pass through to the new owner,” said Segal.

    Gray and Musco got caught up trying to sort out some of the strictest tenancy laws in the country. They've already been to court twice this summer. 

    "It doesn't make sense how people can do that. How they can get away with it," said Musco and Gray. 

    It turns out Walls may be doing something familiar to landlords in Massachusetts. Court records show she's well aware of laws that favor tenants and is using them to her advantage.

    FOX25 uncovered several housing cases involving Walls in Hull and Plymouth.

    She got a restraining order against Musco on Aug. 22 restricting him from coming to his own property. Next she claimed indigence, which allowed Walls to get a court appointed attorney.

    Back in February of 2015 walls issued a restraining order against John Buchanan in Plymouth housing court. Then in March of 2015 while Walls filed for a restraining order against Buchanan again. The restraining order was issued.

    On Apr. 27, 2015 they met in court. The case was continued to May, then to June; it was finally settled in Buchanan's favor in mid-June.

    Back in Hull, FOX25 tried to speak with Walls to get her side of the story.

    "I just want to see if we can talk about the tenant issue at the house? I mean you've gone to court. You don't want to say anything about what's going on and why you've gone to court?"

    "I don't think I should be talking about it,” she said.

    That day, FOX25 learned that the court did the talking for Walls. A judge found in her favor that she had the right to remain in the house- the time frame unclear.

    Greg and Mark are stuck again, unable to proceed until they can resolve the issue with Walls saying, "We just want the house back.”

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