Grab a Massachusetts eviction notice template and read further to learn about what happens AFTER a notice is posted, how long the eviction process takes and other aspects of Massachusetts eviction law.
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When it comes to legal documents, one of the most common throughout the nation is the fixed-term residential lease. This type of lease, which is considered a standard lease, is typically held between a lessee and a lessor. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, these leases become unpleasant for one or both of the parties associated with it, and when the landlord wants to end a problematic lease, he or she can opt to evict. The eviction process in Massachusetts, like in other commonwealths, involves first serving the tenant a Notice to Quit, which is designed to alert the lessee that the relationship has become a problem and that the lessor is seeking legal recourse.
Types of Eviction Notices
There are two types of eviction notices that a tenant can receive in Massachusetts. The first notice to quit is a 14-day notice that is used when the rent is late. This will let the tenant know that they have 14 days in which they will need to pay the rent or vacate the property. If the issue is not resolved, then the landlord can continue with eviction proceedings.
The other type of notice to quit that the landlord can send to the tenant is a 30-day notice. This is the type of letter that is given when the tenant has broken the terms of the lease in some way. It could be by doing something illegal or forbidden in the terms of the original arrangement. This is called non-compliance, and the 30-day notice will allow them some time to resolve the issue or vacate the property.
If the tenant has a month-to-month rental agreement, they will also receive a 30-day notice if they are being told to vacate the premises.
What Happens after a Notice is Posted
Once the notice is delivered to the tenant, the landlord will have to wait to see how the tenant proceeds. If they pay the rent or stops the non-compliant behavior, the issue is resolved, but if they do not comply with the notice, the landlord will be able to take the issue to the court to start the eviction process. The court will need to be located in the same county as the property that the landlord owns, and if the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will have to vacate the premises. This judgment can be appealed, but the process is often costly, which will deter a lot of tenants from following through with the appeal.
When is Rent Due
The rent for any unit is Massachusetts is going to be due on the first of the month unless otherwise stated in the residential lease agreement. If it’s due at any other time, then it will need to be stated in the agreement. Also, the rent is late the first day after it is due, so if it differs in this specific unit, then it should be clarified in the rental agreement.
In this commonwealth, rent is deemed late the day after the day established in the lease. Once rent is late, the landlord can then send a 14-day notice to the tenant.
How Long Does the Eviction Process Take
The entire eviction process can take a bit of time to complete because there are different steps that may take longer than others. The first step is to wait the 14 to 30 days for the notice that they receive, and then file for a court date. Once this occurs, wait until the trial to see what the verdict is. If the rules in favor of the landlord and the tenant appeals, it could take even longer. In general, most evictions that are not contested will take one to two months. If it is contested, then the process can become six months or longer.
Types of Notices in Massachusetts
Here’s a breakdown of the types of notices in Massachusetts:
The 14-Day Notice to Quit
This notice can be delivered the day after the rent is due, and it’s a statement that alerts the tenant that the landlord either wants his or her real property returned to them or for the value of rent to be paid immediately. Unlike other commonwealths, in Massachusetts, the 14-day notice is only used for late rent.
The 30-Day Notice to Quit
If a tenant has in some other way violated the letter of the lease, then he or she may also be served a non-compliance notice to quit. A violation can entail having pets in non-pet-friendly units or smoking in the wrong area. Like the 14-day notice, if the tenant opts to resolve the issue with the landlord, then in many cases, the tenant can continue living in the unit.
The Month-to-Month Notice to Quit
This is another type of notice that also has a 30-day period, but this notice can be served by either the landlord or the tenant. This is because this notice is designed for month-to-month rentals, which are also called at-will leases. The only limitation to the serving of these notices is that the party that’s serving it must grant the other party a 30-day period before the property is vacated.
When writing up one of these notices for a problematic tenant, it’s critical that all of the pertinent sections are included. One of the first things that must be verified is that the 14- or 30-day notice has been delivered and received by the tenant. This is important because, if there is no evidence of receipt, the tenant can use this as a defense against eviction.
It’s important to understand that the mere serving of a Notice to Quit is a means in which to resolve any issues that may have come up – the tenant can opt to repair the relationship by either paying any back rent or remedying the behavior that has put them at odds with their landlord. As a rule, in Massachusetts, if a landlord is seeking to evict, then he or she must provide ample notice as mandated by the commonwealth.
After the notice period has expired, the landlord will have to continue the eviction process in the court in the same county as the property. If the tenant opts to represent his or herself, then he or she must appear before the court to indicate that he or she is seeking out a solution to the problem. If the tenant doesn’t respond, then the landlord can file a Summons and Complaint, which will then be served by a sheriff or constable.
How to Write a Notice to Quit
Before writing one of these documents, it’s critical that a landlord first review the initial lease document. Here are the prerequisite sections that will have to be included in a Notice to Quit in the commonwealth of Massachusetts:
The Intended Recipient of the Notice
The first thing that must be included is the recipient of the notice. The name should appear on the notice exactly as it appeared in the original lease document.
Outline the Property in Question
The second thing that must be identified is the property. For this section, include information like the physical address – being sure to also include things like side streets, unit and building numbers, the county, and the zip code.
Define the Original Rental Agreement
The next relevant section should provide information about the original lease. Include the signing date and any established lease sections that the tenant has violated.
The Notice to Comply
The next section can vary based on the type of notice, but this section will clearly establish that compliance is required for the continuation of the rental relationship. In many cases, landlords use a two checkbox system that indicates both non-payment and non-compliance as being the reasons for the Notice to Quit. For non-payment, compliance will require that the tenant pay what’s owed, and for non-compliance, the tenant must remedy the situation that has caused the issues with the lessor. It’s also crucial for the right time frames to be included. Here’s how they should appear:
Non-Payment: “Within fourteen (14) days to pay the undersigned or ____ an authorized agent, the rent of the premises hereinafter described, of which you now hold possession accounting in the sum of…” This part should include the rental value owed in both written-out and numerical values.
Non-Compliance: “Within thirty (30) days to remedy the violation described as ____. This is in non-compliance with your lease agreement. You shall notify the landlord by the end of the notice period that the violation has been cured or quit and deliver the possession of the premises at the end of the notice period.”
The Signature Section
Next, the party that’s serving the document must confirm their intent by signing the Notice to Quit. This will indicate that the landlord is demanding compliance and that the renter is expected to remedy the issue on their end.
Since the delivery must be confirmed in this state, a delivery agent will have to ensure that the document arrives in the tenant’s or an adult representative’s hands. The agent will then report the date that the notice has been delivered on a blank line on the notice. Next, the following line will indicate who received the notice, which can be any household member who is an adult. If it hasn’t been put in someone’s hands, then the agent can also verify that the notice has been delivered via first-class mail.
For more information on the laws that govern evictions in Massachusetts, click here.