By Robert Nislick

Someone is entering on your property without your permission. Maybe he has come into your house, workplace, apartment building, condominium, or store. You have told him to leave. You don’t want him to come back.

This scary person is a trespasser. What can you do to help protect yourself against person who intentionally intruding on your property without permission?

The Massachusetts criminal trespass statute, G. L. c. 266, § 120, allows a property owner to issue a notice to the trespasser forbidding him from entering or remaining on the property. The owner who drafts such a “No Trespass Notice” should have a constable serve it on the trespasser. The owner should also mail a copy of the notice to the local police department.

If a person trespasses after being forbidden to enter or remain there by the person in lawful control over the premises, either directly or by means of a posted notice, then the trespasser can be criminally charged. If convicted, the statute provides for punishment by a fine of up to $100, or by imprisonment of up to 30 days, or both.

Someone who is charged with a count of criminal trespass should consider making a motion at his arraignment or at the pretrial conference to ask the court to decriminalize the charge and treat it as a civil matter, pursuant to G. L. c. 277, § 70C.

It is important to note that this statute does not apply to holdover tenants of residential premises, or a tenant whose right to possess the premises has been terminated by a notice to quit. In those circumstances, the statute is clear that owner or landlord of said premises may recover possession only through summary process.

If someone is trespassing on your property and you need to draft and serve such a notice, or if you have been charged with criminal trespass, contact Robert Nislick, a Massachusetts real estate attorney and defense attorney, today.

16 Replies to “The No Trespass Notice in Massachusetts”

  1. So can anyone file an order against anyone even if there has not been any trespassing?

    Can an order be put in place if there has not been any trespassing to begin with. It’s being done to me in a spiteful way by a neighbor.


    1. A person who has not trespassed but who has nevertheless received such a notice in spite may consider drafting a letter in response to document what has happened and that there was no basis to serve the no-trespass notice in the first place.

      1. What if a person got a “No Trespass Notice”, does it considers a crime or misdemeanor?

  2. does the (spiteful), trespass order”” have to be from the property owner, or is it accepted by a manager of property?

  3. I have someone who has placed a no trespass order in spite
    how do I go about drafting a letter disputing the no trespass

  4. How do I draft a letter disputing the no trespass ? Who do I send the letter to ?
    Should I go to court ?

  5. Someone who has POA over someone’s property while is incarcerated. The person who has the POA has no limitations. May they file a no trespassing order, on the person who put them in jail. I a trying to protect the apartment and him when he comes home. How long is a no trespassing order good for?

    1. I would have to see the power of attorney, but there should be a way to do it. I am not suggesting it is necessarily the right thing to do under this particular set of circumstances, however.

      1. I spoke with my friend and we are going to wait until he comes home to have her served. We do not want to start something because she might turn around and lie something. She states she wants him to have no contact with her. But she is going to be the one coming looking for him once he is released. So we just have to be prepared for what she might do. I already had his own lawyer look at it, when I received it.

  6. Many people seem to think that in order for a posting to be legally valid in Massachusetts, a sign must be displayed every 50 feet (or some distance) along the property line. I’ve heard this for a while and thought it to be true. I’ve seen some suggest that a 60 foot gap (assuming the distance is 50 feet) would invalidate all the other signs and the whole notion of having given “notice” to a potential trespasser. I see nothing describing this in M.G.L. chapter 120. Is this must-post-every-X-feet-with-no-gaps-larger-than-X-feet a real thing?

      1. I spoke with a local police officer today and asked him about the 50-foot-posting rule. He told me that it is in the MA hunting regulations and that that’s what they enforce. I found in M.G.L. c.131, s. 36 a reference to “conspicuously” posting, but no mention of the 50 foot figure. I also see nothing in 321 CMR 3.00: Hunting on I suppose “conspicuously” could mean, “every 50 feet.” Could this have developed into a standard that is now used by all the law enforcement depts.? Or must it be written somewhere to be “real”?

  7. What if I the tenant legally rent the apartment without issue and the landlord places a no trespass on my guest based on false accusations from other tenants one of which doesn’t reside on the same property that I do but is owned by the same landlord…

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