Massachusetts law about eviction

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on eviction law.

Table of Contents

Best bets

Eviction for landlords and Eviction for tenants. Mass. Trial Court
Guides you through evictions in Massachusetts

Evictions, MassLegalHelp
Provides an overview of the eviction process and a short video that covers tenants’ rights.

Legal Tactics, 8th ed., Annette R. Duke, editor, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, 2017, (Includes forms)
Just about the best book written on Massachusetts tenants' rights, Chapter 12 covers evictions.

Massachusetts laws

Primary eviction law

MGL c. 239 Summary Process for Possession of Land. 

Other Massachusetts laws relating to eviction

MGL c. 121B, s.32 Evictions, Local Housing Authorities
MGL c. 139, s.19 Use of Premises for Illegal Activities, Voiding of Lease
MGL c. 184, s.18 Forcible Entry Forbidden
MGL c. 186, s.13 Recovery of Possession After Termination of Tenancy at Will
MGL c. 186, s.13A Tenants Deemed to be At Will Upon Foreclosure
MGL c. 186, s.14 Quiet Enjoyment Violation
MGL c.186A Tenants in Foreclosed Properties

Massachusetts regulations

105 CMR 410 State sanitary code - minimum standards of fitness for human habitation

940 CMR 3.17(5) Unfair and deceptive acts by landlord

Federal laws and regulations


42 USC 1437f Tenants with Section Eight Certificates - Rights Prior to Eviction or Termination of Benefits 
42 USC 13601-13643 Standards & Obligations of Residency in Federally Assisted Housing
PL 111-22 Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009


24 CFR 247 Evictions from Certain Subsidized and HUD-Owned Projects

Court rules

Uniform rules of summary process


Eviction Forms: To Evict a Tenant

Court forms

Notice to Quit:

Eviction Defense Forms

Forms and Sample Filled-In forms from Mass. Legal Help. Includes:

Selected cases

Lenders Commercial Finance LLC v. Pestilli, et al, Southeast Housing Court, Feb. 3, 2017.
A bank that purchased a home at foreclosure could not evict the former owners with just a 30-day notice to quit. "The Court finds that there is no evidence in this action that there was ever any agreement between the parties for the defendant to pay any rent to the plaintiff, or for any definite rental period. Accordingly, the court finds that G.L. c. 186, s.12 requires that the plaintiff terminate the defendant's tenancy at will by service of a 90 Day Notice to Quit for possession."

Meikle v. Nurse, 474 Mass. 207 (2016) 
The SJC held that "a violation of the security deposit statute... may be asserted as a defense to a landlord's possession in a summary process action under G. L. c. 239, § 1A" However, "The statute does not impose an obligatory tenancy on the landlord. Nothing in the statute prevents the landlord from bringing a second summary process action for possession after he or she has remedied the violation of the security deposit statute."

Rental Property Management Services v. Hatcher, 479 Mass. 542 (2018)
"Where the plaintiff in a summary process action is neither the owner nor the lessor of the property, the court must dismiss the complaint with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, regardless of whether a motion to dismiss has been presented by the defendant."

Web sources

Applying for Emergency Assistance Shelter: A guide for families , Mass. Law Reform Institute and Rosie's Place, October 2015. Also available in Spanish.
"Emergency Assistance is the shelter system for families in Massachusetts..." Pregnant women and families with children are eligible...You have to show you are homeless because of domestic violence, fire, flood or natural disaster, or certain kinds of eviction that were not your fault." There are several more requirements to be eligible. The guide explains these requirements and how to apply for shelter.

Emergency Assistance (EA) Advocacy Guide: A guide to emergency shelter and re-housing services for homeless families with children in Massachusetts, Mass. Law Reform, Sept. 2017
This online book includes eligibility, placement, disability, language access, appeals, and extensive contact information. 

The Eviction Process in Massachusetts,
Reviews the timeline for Summary Process Eviction.

Eviction Storage Law, Mass. Legal Help, 2013
The eviction storage law provides "important rights to tenants who are facing an eviction or who have been evicted." Booklet includes who is covered by the law, storage company responsibilities, tenant's rights, and sample letters and forms.

Tenant at sufferance
A tenant at sufferance is not entitled to a notice to quit (Margosian v. Markarian, 288 Mass. 197 (1934)), but is entitled to sufficient time to remove his property (Lash v. Ames, 171 Mass. 487 (1898))

Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Massachusetts, Nolo
Explains grounds for eviction as well as defenses.

Representing Yourself in an Eviction, Mass. Legal Help
The first of nine booklets on the eviction process for tenants, this one provides an overview of the steps required in representing yourself

Print sources



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: September 17, 2018


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