If you are being evicted in the state of Massachusetts, you may not know how to proceed. Learning about the eviction process in Massachusetts can help you understand your rights and options under the law. After reading this guide, you will understand the steps involved in the eviction process in Massachusetts and how long each step will take.
Before your landlord can begin the eviction process in Massachusetts courts, he or she must give you notice that your tenancy is ending. The required notice period is fourteen days. If you are being evicted because you failed to pay rent, you will have the first ten days of this notice period to repay the rent and automatically be re-established as a tenant. After the first ten days, while your landlord may accept your late rent, they are not required to.
Your landlord may also give you a way to cure the breach to your lease if you have broken some other tenet of your lease agreement. For instance, if you have been keeping an unauthorized pet, the notice to quit that you are issued may offer to allow you to pay a pet deposit or re-home the pet within a set time period to keep your home.
At this time during the eviction process in Massachusetts, no court has yet become involved. Before court paperwork is filed, you may still be able to negotiate a deal with your landlord without any government or court involvement.
Court Filings and Hearings
If you do not cure the breach or pay the rent according to the times specified in the notice to quit, your landlord may begin the next step of the eviction process in Massachusetts courts. In Massachusetts, an eviction lawsuit is called a “summary process” suit, and will be filed in a housing court.
After your landlord files the paperwork, you will be served with a copy of the complaint, which details why you are being evicted, and the summons, which will tell you the date, time, and location of the court hearing to decide your eviction case.
You are not required to appear at the Summary Process hearing, but if you do not appear in court, the judge will automatically rule in your landlord's favor. You may wish to defend yourself from the suit if your landlord has discriminated illegally against you, or if your landlord has violated portions of your lease. Contacting a lawyer with experience with the eviction process in Massachusetts may help you understand your rights and options.
If your landlord wins the hearing, you will be given a ten-day period to appeal the ruling. If you do not expect to appeal, this time may also be used to vacate the premises before the execution order is filed.
After the ten day appeal period has passed, if no appeal has been filed, your landlord will obtain an “execution” from the court. This will be served to you by the sheriff, and will inform you that you have 48 hours to leave the premises or be forcibly removed. Execution is the last step in the eviction process in Massachusetts, and if you have not vacated, the sheriff is allowed to remove you from the house or apartment by any means necessary.