What You Need To Know About Eviction in Massachusetts

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In Massachusetts, it is common for landlord’s to give seven days’ written notice for an eviction, but that may vary depending on the terms of your lease. If you are being evicted because you have not paid rent, landlords are required to give you a 14-Day Notice to Quit. For an eviction to be legally effective, landlords must go through the courts before giving you notice. 
Rent prices are increasing year by year, so the threat of eviction may be concerning to tenants in Massachusetts. If you’re worried about being evicted from your home, you should know your legal rights to make sure you're protected throughout this process. 
Jerry, the super app for car and renters insurance app knows how stressful an eviction can be. That’s why we’ve put together an overview of the eviction process in Massachusetts. We’ll outline ways you can be evicted, a timeline for the process, requirements for landlords and other key factors that might be able to help you if you’re wrongfully evicted. 
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Massachusetts eviction 101: the three ways you can be evicted

Massachusetts law does not specify the amount of notice a landlord must provide. Instead, your landlord is required to give you a Notice to Quit in writing as specified by the terms of your lease. This is often seven days’ notice unless you have not been paying rent. In this case, your landlord must give you a 14-day Notice to Quit.  
The Notice to Quit must include what date your tenancy is ending. Once the tenant has received the Notice to Quit, the landlord can file an eviction suit.
While your landlord can choose to evict you for a number of reasons, it is normally due to one of three causes: 
  • You are not paying rent: This type of eviction requires a 14-day Notice to Quit. To avoid eviction, a tenant can pay the rent they owe in full with interest and the landlord’s acrued costs from filing for eviction.
  • You have violated the terms of your lease: This could be something like refusing to shovel your driveway when your lease specified that the tenant is responsible for snow removal. Your lease will specify the notice required for this type of eviction. 
  • Serious violation: A landlord can evict you if you have seriously violated your lease (ex. Illegal subletting, major property damage, nuisance, etc.). Look to your lease for more details about the notice a landlord must provide you. 
A landlord must have a valid legal reason, such as those listed above, for filing for eviction. Without this, an eviction may not be legal. However, a landlord y can choose not to renew your lease at the end of the term if they wish to end your tenancy. There are two main ways your lease will end:
  • Tenancy at will: This is a month-to-month lease, and your landlord must give you at least 30 days’ notice before you’re evicted. 
  • Tenancy under a lease: Double check with your lease to determine how much notice is required before your landlord can evict you. There is no notice requirement if your lease naturally expires. 
Once your landlord has given you a Notice to Quit, they must file for an eviction, which mustbe within 7-30 days after the notice date. If the landlord wins the eviction lawsuit, you must move out by the determined date. 
Keep in mind that it is illegal for your landlord to remove you and your property from the unit if they do not have a court order. However, if you receive an execution and you refuse to move your belongings, they may call a sheriff to move your property to a storage facility
Key Takeaway Landlords in Massachusetts must obtain a court order before evicting a tenant. Depending on the reason for eviction, landlords must provide tenants with either a seven or thirty-day notice. 
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A timeline of eviction in Massachusetts

Since moving can be so stressful, adding an eviction on top of that can only make it worse. If you’re worried about being evicted, here’s what to expect:
StepHow long it typically takesWhat to expect
Written notice7-14 days
Service dateAs soon as possibleA landlord may serve you with a court summons as soon as the notice period ends.
Entry date7-30 daysThis is when the landlord files an eviction suit with the court. This must be on a Monday, or if it is a holiday, it can be on the next Tuesday.
Answer dateOn/before the first Monday after the entry dateYou have the chance to provide your evidence and state why you should not be evicted.
Trial date10 days after the entry dateYour case will be tried before the court, considering evidence presented by both parties.
EvictionDate of evictionIf your landlord wins the lawsuit, you must move out by the eviction date.
This process depends largely on how desperately your landlord wants to evict you. The process can be quick if they file with the court as soon as possible, or it can be delayed if it isn’t your landlord’s priority. 

How to resist eviction in Massachusetts

If you’re facing eviction, you have certain legal protections that you can rely on. 
  • Fix the issue: With many eviction notices, simply fixing the issue your landlord is concerned about will make the suit go away. Whether it’s paying rent on time, calling a repairman to fix something you broke, or other solutions, this is the easiest and quickest way to stop an eviction. 
  • Make sure the landlord follows the requirements: When evicting a tenant, your landlord must follow the procedure as laid out by law. If you believe your landlord has skipped a step (no written notice, or changing locks before the proper channels have been used, etc.) you can get the court involved and have them dismiss the case. 
  • Landlord has failed to maintain the property: Landlords are required to provide tenants with adequate living conditions, and this includes repairing any maintenance issues that pop up over the years. If your landlord is trying to evict you because of water damage, but you have proof that you’ve asked them to fix the issue and they’ve refused to, you can avoid eviction. 
  • Discrimination: If you believe that your landlord is being discriminatory on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, and more, your eviction may be tossed out. 
Any of the above are good ways to respond to an eviction notice, or you can sue your landlord. Successfully arguing these defenses will result in monetary compensation and the ability to remain in your home. 

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