I got a notice to quit. What do I do?
In Massachusetts, a landlord must send a tenant a Notice to Quit before the landlord can file a summary process (eviction) action. The Notice to Quit is a legal document that formally notifies the tenant that the tenancy will be terminated on a specific date. A Notice to Quit is not an order to leave your apartment on the date of the lease termination.
NOTE: IF YOU RECEIVE A NOTICE TO QUIT YOU DO NOT NEED TO IMMEDIATELY LEAVE YOUR UNIT. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO A LEGAL PROCEEDING IN WHICH YOU CAN DEFEND AGAINST THE EVICTION. ONLY A COURT ORDER CAN FORCE YOU TO LEAVE YOUR UNIT.
If you have received a Notice to Quit for nonpayment of rent, do not ignore or discard it. You should immediately contact your landlord to try to work out a payment plan. Legal Resource Finder will connect you to information for legal aid programs, nonprofits, government agencies, and court programs that may be able to help you with your legal issue for free or at a low cost. You can then contact your local Housing Consumer Education Center to learn if you are eligible for rental assistance.
In addition, you may be temporarily protected from eviction by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) order in effect through December 31, 2020. You are only covered by the CDC order if:
- You are individual with a net household income under $99,000 or a couple with a net household income under $198,000
- You are unable to pay rent due to a substantial loss in income or extraordinary medical expenses
- You would likely become homeless if evicted,
- You have tried to obtain state or local rental assistance, and
- You are making best efforts to pay as much rent as possible.
If you can attest that you meet all of these criteria, you should fill out a CDC Moratorium Declaration Form and provide it to your landlord.
Please be aware that even if you are protected by the CDC order, your landlord can still begin the process of evicting you. You may receive a complaint and summons, and may need to appear in court. You should not ignore a summons to appear in court, even if you believe you are protected by the CDC order, or a judge may enter a default judgment against you.
Even if the CDC order applies to you, you are at risk of eviction when the CDC moratorium expires on March 31, 2021. The CDC order does not eliminate your obligation to pay rent or late fees. To increase the chance you are able to stay in your home when the moratorium ends, you should pay as much rent as you can and you should seek rental assistance if you need help.
You are strongly urged to consider contacting your local Housing Consumer Education Center (“HCEC”). Each HCEC has a Special Housing counselor that can help connect you to resources, information, and services. The HCECs are regional, therefore you should contact the HCEC closest to your home address.
Additional Links and Resources
- “Respond to an eviction against you”
- This webpage provides information on tenant rights and requirements during the eviction process and outlines the procedure for responding to an eviction.
- “Eviction for Tenants”
- This webpage provides information and resources for tenants related to each step of the eviction process. The webpage also has information on obtaining legal help and other assistance with an eviction.
- “Court forms for eviction”
- This webpage provides fillable court forms for tenants to use in responding to evictions.
- “Learn about Court Service Centers”
- This webpage provides general information about the Commonwealth’s Court Service Centers. The Centers are available to all court users without legal representation. There are no income or immigration status requirements to access the Centers.
- NOTE: The Court Service Center locations are closed to the public until further notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but remote services are available via Zoom Meeting for emergency cases. See “Important Update About Court Service Centers” for information on remote access to the Centers during COVID.