If you’re a landlord seeking to evict a tenant for violating one or more lease terms in your rental agreement (such as not paying rent by the due date), use a Massachusetts (MA) Eviction Notice to begin the process.
Your notice must be written according to Massachusetts state law and give your tenant the legally required time to respond or move out.
- What is an Eviction Notice?
- Massachusetts Eviction Notices by Type
- Eviction Laws & Requirements
- What is the Eviction Process in Massachusetts?
- Related Court Forms
- Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Eviction Information
- How to Write an Eviction Notice (Notice to Pay Rent or Quit)
- Sample Massachusetts Eviction Notice
What is an Eviction Notice?
In Massachusetts, eviction lawsuits are legal proceedings to remove a tenant from a rental unit, and they are governed by Chapter 239 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Suppose the tenant doesn’t comply with the notice. In that case, the landlord may file an eviction action, also known as Summary Process (Summons and Complaint), in either the Central Housing Court, the Boston Municipal Court, or the District Court in the town, city or county where the property is located.
For reference, a 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 notice customized for Massachusetts state law below in MS Word (.docx) or Adobe PDF format.
30-Day Lease Termination: Use this 30-day 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.
Download: Word (.docx) or Adobe PDF
Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance: Use this notice to quit to begin evicting a tenant if they’ve broken one or more lease terms in your lease agreement. In this situation, landlords can begin the eviction process immediately and do not have to wait for a specific notice period to pass.
Download: Word (.docx) or Adobe PDF
14-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit: Use this notice to begin evicting a tenant if they have not paid or are late paying rent. In Massachusetts, landlords must give tenants a 14-day notice period to pay rent before eviction can proceed in court.
Download: Word (.docx) or Adobe PDF
If you wish to send a letter simply reminding your tenant that rent is late, use a late rent notice.
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)
What is the Eviction Process in Massachusetts?
The following information outlines the eviction process in Massachusetts.
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 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 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.
Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Eviction Information
Use the following landlord and tenant information to guide you through the eviction process in Massachusetts.
Under Massachusetts law, landlords must not engage in retaliatory actions such as locking tenants out of the dwelling unit, removing their personal property, or shutting off utilities or essential services 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.
Additionally, per Massachusetts Fair Housing Law, landlords may not evict a tenant or discriminate based on the tenant’s race, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, age, sexual preference, military background or service, marital status, or disability.
No laws also state how a landlord must serve an eviction notice.
Furthermore, landlords should be careful when levying late fees and including them in eviction notices and only include fees allowed by the original lease agreement (check Massachusetts state law as well to ensure you are clear on when you can charge a late fee).
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. As a tenant, you may be able to put up a defense depending on the circumstances of your eviction. Read the notice(s) carefully to know exactly what’s happening and what you need to do.
Tenants can 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 (keep in mind some resources may involve attorney fees)
- Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
- Disability Law Center of Massachusetts
- Boston Fair Housing and Equity
- Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston
- Massachusetts Fair Housing Laws
- Massachusetts Fair Housing Center
- Cambridge Human Rights Commission
- Massachusetts Attorney General’s Guide to Landlord and Tenant Rights
- Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
- Mass Legal Help
How to Write an Eviction Notice (Notice to Pay Rent or Quit)
Take the following steps to file an eviction notice in Massachusetts.
Step 1 – Fill Out Date of Notice
Write the date of the eviction notice.
Step 2 – Enter Tenant Information and Property Address
Provide the name of all tenants listed on the original lease or rental agreement. Enter the full street address for the rental property.
Step 3 – Enter Lease/Rental Agreement Information
Provide the name (or title) and the original lease or rental agreement date.
Step 4 – Enter Late Rent Details
Provide the beginning and end dates for the period the rent is past due. Write the amount of the past due rent, late fees (if any), and the total amount the tenant owes to the landlord.
Step 5 – Sign Notice and Enter Landlord Information
The landlord will sign and date the eviction notice. Provide the landlord’s current contact information so the tenant can contact the landlord if necessary.
Step 6 – Provide Proof of Service
Proof of service is an affidavit that shows that the eviction notice was served to the tenant.
Enter the date of delivery. This is important because it provides evidence of the date the notice is delivered to the tenant, which starts the number of days the tenant has to pay the past due rent (14 days) or vacate the property.
Sample Massachusetts Eviction Notice
The following is an example of what a Massachusetts eviction notice looks like.