Massachusetts Eviction Process & Laws | Free MA Eviction Notices

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts eviction process may arise at the option of the landlord in the event the tenant does not make payment on rent and/or vacate at the end of a notice to quit. At the end of the notice period the landlord may file the proper forms (See Samples) at the Housing Court in their county. A guide to complete the process may be found on the Court System Webpage. A lessee may represent themselves by using the Tenant Rights' Guidelines.

NonPayment Laws - 14 days Chapter 186 § 11

NonCompliance Laws - No statute

Nuisance Laws - 48 hours Chapter 139 § 19

Month to Month Laws - 30 days Chapter 186, § 12

Eviction Laws - Chapter 239 (Summary Process for Possession of Land)

Types of Notice

Massachusetts 14 Day Notice to Pay or Quit | NonPayment of Rent

The Massachusetts fourteen (14) day notice to pay or quit, regulated by Chapter 186 Section 11, is required to be served to all forms of tenants that have failed to pay rent (both month-to-month and standard tenants). The notice gives the tenant fourteen (14) days to either pay the owed…

Massachusetts 30 Day Lease Termination Letter | Tenancy at Will

The Massachusetts thirty (30) day lease termination letter, described in Chapter 186, Section 12, is reserved to be used to terminate a monthly lease agreement. This notice does not apply to when a month-to-month tenant has failed to pay rent (a fourteen day notice should be issued in that case)….

Massachusetts 48 Hour Notice to Quit | Nuisance

The Massachusetts forty-eight (48) hour notice to vacate, entitled by Chapter 139 § 19, is reserved to be used when a tenant has committed serious crime(s) within the premises of the rental property. Examples of qualifying criminal activity include prostitution, possession/manufacturing/selling of illegal drugs, illegal gambling operations, etc. For more…

Process How to Evict a Tenant

The Massachusetts eviction process begins with the landlord serving a notice to quit to the tenant who has failed to pay rent (or who is in breach of the lease/rental agreement). A standard tenancy that operates under a lease agreement has a required notice time of 14 (fourteen days). At-will (i.e. month-to-month) tenancies have a required notice period of thirty (30) days (unless the tenant has failed to pay rent – then the notice period for an at-will/month-to-month tenancy is 14 days). Massachusetts also has what is known as a “nuisance law,” which states that if a tenant is using the premises of the rental property for illegal activities (specifically prostitution, possession/sale/manufacturing of drugs, and gambling), then the landlord can immediately terminate the lease agreement (with no notice to the tenant required).

Step 1 – The landlord must serve the tenant with the proper type of notice. If the tenant has failed to pay rent, a fourteen (14) day notice to quit/pay must be served. Month-to-month tenancies can only be terminated after a thirty day notice has been served to the tenant (unless they have not paid rent).

Step 2 – After serving the tenant with the notice, the landlord must wait the full notice period (either 14 or 30 days) to actually terminate the lease agreement. The lease agreement must be terminated before a “summary process summons and complaint” can be purchased (typical price is $5) and then filed by the landlord at court. The complaint/summons will be served to the tenant by the sheriff or constable.

Step 3 – After the complaint/summons has been served to the tenant, the landlord can then file an eviction action with the district court* of the county where the rental property is located.

Note: Eviction lawsuits can also be filed in a “housing court” (if your town/city has one- some locations in Massachusetts do not operate housing courts). If you live in Boston, you can also file with the Boston Municipal Court.

Step 4 – There are four major dates in a Massachusetts eviction suit: service date, entry date, answer date, and trial date. The service date is when the tenant will be served with the complaint/summons. The entry date is the date that the landlord will file the complaint/summons, notice to quit, and return of service. Entry dates are on Mondays, and over seven (7) but less than thirty (30) days from the service date. The answer date is when the tenant must file a written answer to the complaint by. The trial date is when both parties (both landlord and tenant) must go to court.

Note: If the tenant or landlord miss any of the aforementioned dates, the eviction lawsuit can potentially be dismissed by the court.