Massachusetts law allows a landlord to evict a tenant for not paying rent. If a tenant fails to pay the rent by the required date (usually the first of the month, unless the lease says otherwise) and you decide that seeking an eviction is the best option, there are a series of steps you must take. To prevent late rent payments, you can use an online rent collection service that VerticalRent offers for both landlords and renters.
Notice to Quit
The first step is to serve the tenant a written document called the 14-day notice to quit. Massachusetts law does not require you to serve this notice in any particular fashion; the only requirement is that the tenant receive it. However, as a protective measure, it is best to document delivery of the notice.
The notice to quit should include:
- The tenant's name, address, and the date the notice is being served.
- The reason for the notice; in this case, non-payment of rent.
- A statement that the lease will terminate in 14 days unless the rent is paid or the tenant vacates the premises.
- A certificate that shows how the notice was served to the tenant.
Filing the Eviction Lawsuit
If your tenant fails to respond to the 14-day notice, either by paying the rent or moving out, you may proceed with the eviction. You must file a summons and complaint with the county's housing court or district court. The court will set a hearing date, by which time the tenant must pay the rent or file an answer. If the tenant takes no action, the hearing will go forward, and a judge will determine if the eviction is appropriate.
Carrying Out the Eviction
If the judge rules in your favor, you may file an execution with the court. At this point, the sheriff or constable will carry out the physical eviction from your property. As a landlord, you cannot attempt to force the tenant out on your own. Actions such as changing the locks or shutting off utilities may lead to the tenant suing you for damages.
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