By Robert Nislick
You are a Massachusetts landlord. Your tenant is not paying rent. You want to evict him. What can you do to get the eviction process started?
Most landlords know that before you can evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, the landlord must serve, and the tenant must receive, a fourteen-day notice to quit for nonpayment of rent.
If all you are looking for is a form, then here is a link to a form that is available on the Massachusetts Court System web site:
Here is a link to another form that is available on the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department web site:
Here is a link to another form that is available on the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department web site:
Even though these forms are available to use for free, there is no substitute for having an experienced Massachusetts landlord-tenant lawyer handle the eviction from start to finish. This includes drafting the notice to quit. Some landlords think they can do an eviction on their own, or maybe do the notice to quit themselves, and then hire an attorney to show up at court on the day of trial. I would not recommend that approach.
Even if one of these forms might work, it might be completely inappropriate to use one of them. Although I am providing links to these forms, I am certainly not advising that everyone or anyone use them. Something slightly different or completely different might be necessary based on the specific facts. It may be that your case is a simple nonpayment of rent case, and the service of a 14-day notice to quit would be best. It might not be, however. It is common for landlords to have misconceptions about how to terminate a tenancy and how best to move the ball down the field.
An experienced landlord-tenant attorney may see your case differently. There are various situations in which I may advise proceeding with a 7-day notice to quit, or a 30-day notice to quit, or a 90-day notice to quit, or an immediate termination, or a notice that provides a holdover tenant less than seven days to vacate.
The circumstances might be such that serving any notice to quit would be less than prudent, and an alternative course of action would be better. Additionally, issues of timing in the eviction process are important, and are too numerous to discuss in this article.
Robert Nislick is a Massachusetts landlord-tenant lawyer who practices in Boston Housing Court, Worcester Housing Court, Northeast Housing Court, Southeast Housing Court, Western Housing Court, and the summary process session of the District Court.