If you’re a landlord seeking to evict a tenant, use a Massachusetts (MA) eviction notice to begin the process. Your eviction notice must be written according to Massachusetts state law, and give your tenant the legally required amount of time to respond or move out.
In Massachusetts, eviction lawsuits are governed by Chapter 239 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
If the tenant doesn’t comply with the eviction notice, the landlord may file an eviction action, also known as a Summons and Complaint, in either the Local Housing Court, the Boston Municipal Court, or the District Court that covers the location of the property. In Massachusetts, eviction lawsuits are governed by Section 32J: Summary process to recover possession; termination of tenancy or lease.
For reference, an Massachusetts Eviction Notice is also known as:
- Massachusetts Notice to Quit
- Massachusetts Notice to Pay or Quit
- Massachusetts Notice to Vacate
- Massachusetts Lease Termination
Massachusetts Eviction Notices by Type
Download a free eviction notice customized for Massachusetts state law below in MS Word (.docx) or Adobe PDF format.
30-Day Lease Termination: Use this notice to let a tenant know that you’re ending a lease, and that they must prepare to leave your property. In Massachusetts, landlords must give tenants 30 days’ notice to move out if they’re on a month-to-month lease.
Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance: Use this notice to begin evicting a tenant if they’ve broken the terms of your lease. In this situation, landlords can begin the eviction process immediately.
14-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit: Use this notice to begin evicting a tenant if they haven’t paid rent on time. In Massachusetts, landlords must give tenants 14 days to pay rent before the eviction process can proceed in court.
If you wish to send a letter simply reminding your tenant that rent is late (without threat of eviction), use a late rent notice.
Eviction Laws & Requirements
- Eviction Lawsuit: Section 32J
- Grace Period for Rent Payment: No statute.
- Late or Non-Rent Payment Notice: 15 days (Section 32J(1))
- Notice of Non-Compliance: 30 days (Section 32J(2))
- Illegal Activity: 30 days (Section 32J(3))
- Lease Termination (Month-to-Month): 30 days (Section 12)
What is the Eviction Process in Massachusetts?
Step 1: Deliver the eviction notice
The landlord must first give the tenant the appropriate eviction notice to begin the eviction process.
Step 2: Wait for the tenant to act
If the tenant fixes (or “cures”) the problem or moves out within the required timeframe, then no further action is necessary.
Step 3: File Summons and Complaint with the court
If the tenant refutes the eviction notice, fails to respond, or fails to cure the breach(es), the landlord may go to the court to obtain a Summons and Complaint.
To file for an action against the tenant, the landlord must use the form provided by the court, and pay a filing fee of $195 when submitting the Summons and Complaint.
Step 4: File forms before the hearing
The landlord must fill out the forms and serve them on the tenant according to Rule 4(d). The landlord must then make a copy of the service and file it with the court.
Step 5: The tenant answers the complaint
The tenant has the right to appeal and refute the claims made against them through the Summary Process Answer Form by the first Monday before the scheduled trial date.
Before the hearing date, both the landlord and the tenant may file a Discovery to view the documents that may be used against them in court. Discoveries must be filed before the first (1st) Monday after the entry day.
Step 6: Evict the tenant
If the tenant doesn’t answer or if the landlord wins the case, the landlord may obtain an execution eleven days after the judgment.
Once the execution has been approved, the sheriff will then serve it on the tenant and give them 48 hours to move out. If the tenant remains on the premises after that 48 hour window, the sheriff can physically remove them.
Related Court Forms
- Summons and Complaint (Sample): If the tenant doesn’t take any action by curing the breaches outlined in the eviction notice, the landlord can file for eviction with this form. A Summons and Complaint can only be obtained from the court for a fee (which differs by county).
- Summary Process Answer Form: After the summons and complaint has been served on the tenant, the tenant may refute the eviction by filling out and filing this form with the same court the eviction case was filed in.
- Discovery: Once an eviction complaint has been filed, both the landlord and the tenant can use this form to request to view any documents that will be used against them in court.
Eviction Information for Massachusetts Landlords and Tenants
Under Massachusetts law, landlords must not engage in retaliatory actions such as locking tenants out of the rental property, removing their belongings, or shutting off utilities without a court order. However, Massachusetts landlords do not have to issue an eviction notice if the tenant is involved in illegal activities on the rental property.
There are also no laws that state how a landlord must serve an eviction notice.
Visit Mass.gov for more information on your legal rights and obligations as a Massachusetts landlord.
Tenants, like landlords, have legal rights in Massachusetts during the eviction process. As a tenant, you may be able to put up a defense depending on the circumstances of your eviction. Read the eviction notice(s) carefully so you know exactly what’s happening and what you need to do.
Tenants can potentially sue their landlord if an eviction notice is served improperly or the landlord is attempting a retaliatory eviction such as changing the locks or shutting off utilities.
If you’re facing eviction, visit the following websites for more information on your responsibilities, rights, and how to receive legal help:
- Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
- Disability Law Center of Massachusetts
- Boston Fair Housing Commission
- Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston
- Massachusetts fair housing laws
- Massachusetts Fair Housing Center
- Cambridge Human Rights Commission
- Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Law
- Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
- Attorney General’s Office
- Mass Legal Help