A Massachusetts eviction notice is a crucial tool for landlords seeking to evict tenants for violating one or more terms in their rental agreement (such as not paying rent by the due date). Your notice must be written according to Massachusetts state law and give your tenant the legally required time to respond or move out.
Download a free notice customized for Massachusetts state law below in MS Word (.docx) or Adobe PDF format.
Eviction Laws & Requirements
- Eviction Lawsuit: M.G.L. Chapter 239.
- Grace Period for Rent Payment: No statute.
- Late or Non-Payment of Rent Notice: 14 days (M.G.L. c. 186 § 11).
- Notice of Non-Compliance: No statute.
- Illegal (Criminal) Activity: No notice required (M.G.L. c. 139 § 19).
- Lease Termination (Month-to-Month): 30 days (M.G.L. c. 186 § 12).
How to Evict a Tenant in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, eviction lawsuits are legal proceedings to remove a tenant from a rental unit, and they are governed by Chapter 239 – Summary Process for Possession of Land, Massachusetts General Laws.
Step 1: Deliver the notice
The landlord must first give the appropriate notice to begin the process of evicting a tenant. To deliver the notice, you may send your document via first class mail, registered mail, or certified mail with a return receipt, personal service (hand-delivered notice to post on the front door), or a process server.
Step 2: Wait for the tenant to respond
If the tenant fixes (or “cures”) the problem or moves out within the required time period, then no further action is necessary.
Step 3: File Summons and Complaint with the Court
If the tenant refuses the notice, fails to respond, or fails to cure the breach(es), the landlord may file a Summons and Complaint to the District Court or Housing Court.
To file an action against the tenant, the landlord must use the form provided by the court and pay a filing fee (currently $195) when submitting the Summons and Complaint.
Step 4: File forms before the court date
The landlord must fill out the Summons and Complaint and serve them on the tenant according to Massachusetts Civil Procedure Rule 4. The landlord must then provide written proof of service to the court.
Step 5: The tenant answers the complaint
The tenant has the right to appeal and refute the claims made against them in the Summons and Complaint by filing the Summary Process Answer with the court by the Monday before the scheduled trial date as indicated on the Summons.
Before the trial date, the landlord and the tenant may file a Discovery request to view the documents used against them in court. It is recommended to file the Discovery request simultaneously as the Answer.
Remember, a tenant can challenge their eviction if the landlord does not follow all procedures outlined in Massachusetts General Law or in the lease agreement.
Step 6: Evict the tenant
If the tenant doesn’t answer (default judgment for the landlord) or if the landlord wins the case, the landlord may obtain a court judgment for execution eleven days after the judgment.
Once the order for execution has been approved, the sheriff will serve it on the tenant and give them at least 48 hours to move out. If the tenant remains on the premises after that time, the sheriff can physically remove them and their personal possessions.
Related Massachusetts Court Forms
- Summary Process (Eviction) Summons and Complaint (Sample): If the tenant doesn’t take action by curing the breaches outlined in the notice, the landlord can file for eviction with this form. A Summons and Complaint can be obtained from the court for a fee (which differs by town, city, and county).
- Summary Process Answer: After the Summons and Complaint have been served on the tenant, the tenant may refute the eviction by completing and filing this form with the same court in which the eviction case was filed.
- Discovery: Once an eviction complaint has been filed, both the landlord and the tenant can use this form to request any documents that will be used against them in court.