Question: I operate a local antique store. Yesterday, a shopper became irate after some price negotiation. He was loud and very intimidating, but didn’t threaten me physically. Do I have any rights to keep him away from coming to my store again?
Answer: Apparently, haggling is a lost art. If you feel this visitor can’t take the heat, keep him out of your kitchen. Though your store is open to the public, you have the right to refuse entry for a legitimate reason such as this.
Massachusetts law allows a rightful occupant of property to forbid someone from entering thereupon. You must simply provide the person with a Notice of Trespass in the form of a letter or by posting a sign. If after receiving notice, the man disobeys your demand and comes back to your store, he is subject to criminal prosecution by your local police department.
Many retail trespass situations are made difficult because you likely don’t know the visitor’s name or address. Perhaps if you have a picture of the man taken from a security camera, you can post it in your store with a notice of trespass. Though creepy, this may be appropriate decor for an antique store. A posted picture may conjure an old west “wanted dead or alive” theme. Seriously though, ask an attorney to prepare a written notice of trespass to have ready, should he return. You can serve the notice in hand as you ask him to leave.
If you know the man’s address, mail the notice by certified mail so you can prove you took proper procedural steps under the law. Here’s a practical tip: because many recipients of certified mail try to beat the system by refusing to accept delivery, mail a copy first class. Though he is deemed served regardless of his acceptance of the certified mail, sending a first class copy will allow him to view the content of your letter and still feel like he is getting a free glimpse. This helps to ensure your notice doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
Attorney James Haroutunian practices real estate law and estate planning in Billerica at 790 Boston Road. Contact him with questions at 978-671-0711, prioritylaw.com, hlawoffice.com, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.