Massachusetts law about eviction

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on eviction law.

Legal help is available.

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Table of Contents

Best bets

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

Facing an eviction, MassLegalHelp.
Provides an overview of the eviction process and a short video that explains legal requirements for service of a complaint.

Housing appeals guide, Mass. Appeals Court.
This guide explains the process of getting an appeal from the trial court into the Appeals Court. If you are looking to stop an imminent eviction, skip down to Staying execution on a judgment.

Housing court resources, Mass. Housing Court.  
Web-based version of the civil informational sheet, which provides concise information on procedures of the Housing Court. Page also includes downloadable PDFs of civil informational sheets for each regional court division.

Legal tactics, 8th ed., Annette R. Duke, editor, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, 2017 (2021 updates).
Just about the best book written on Massachusetts tenants' rights, Chapter 12 covers evictions. Includes forms.

Legal assistance

Eviction legal services and mediation, Mass. Dept. of Housing and Community Development.
Available to both tenants and landlords to preserve tenancy.

Massachusetts legal resource finder, Legal Services Corp.
Information for legal aid offices, government agencies and court programs that may be able to help you for free or at low cost.

Volunteer Lawyers Project
They will try to find a volunteer attorney to discuss your case with you.

Massachusetts laws

Primary eviction law

MGL c.239 Summary process for possession of land (eviction)

  • New section: § 15 Courts shall grant a continuance for those who are facing eviction due to financial hardship and have an application pending for emergency rental assistance (Added by St.2023, c.28, § 64, approved August 9, 2023.)

Other Massachusetts laws relating to eviction

MGL c.121B, § 32 Evictions, local housing authorities

MGL c.139, § 19 Use of premises for illegal activities, voiding of lease

MGL c.184, § 18 Forcible entry forbidden

MGL c.186, § 11 Determination of lease for nonpayment of rent 

MGL c.186, § 11A Termination of lease for nonpayment of rent

MGL c.186, § 12 Notice to determine estate at will

MGL c.186, § 13 Recovery of possession after termination of tenancy at will

MGL c.186, § 13A Tenants deemed to be at will upon foreclosure

MGL c.186, § 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

Laws

34 U.S.C. § 12491 Housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking

42 U.S.C. § 1437f Low-income housing assistance  

42 U.S.C. §§ 13601-13644 Residency and service requirements in federally assisted housing 

50 U.S.C. § 3951 Evictions and distress (Relates to active servicemembers)

PL 111-22 An act to prevent mortgage foreclosures and enhance mortgage credit availability

Regulations

24 CFR 247 Evictions from certain subsidized and HUD-owned projects

Court rules

Forms

Eviction forms to evict a tenant

Court forms, including Affidavit of Compliance.

Eviction defense forms

MassAccess Court Forms Online, Suffolk University Law School’s Legal Innovation and Technology (LIT) Lab.
Mobile-friendly accessible versions of online court forms and self-help materials in multiple-languages for key areas of urgent legal need.

Forms and sample filled-in forms from Mass. Legal Help. Includes:

Massachusetts Defense for Eviction (MADE), Greater Boston Legal Services. 
Free guided interview is for Massachusetts tenants who are being evicted.

Selected cases

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 families with children experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts, Mass. Law Reform, October 2022.
This online book includes eligibility, placement, disability, language access, appeals, and extensive contact information.

Eviction information after moratorium ends in Massachusetts, Mass. Legal Services.

Eviction legal services and mediation, Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.
"Legal services and mediation are two tools available to both tenants and landlords to help preserve tenancy."

The eviction process in Massachusetts, Masslandlords.net.
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.

Massachusetts defense for eviction (MADE): self-guided eviction help, Greater Boston Legal Services.
"This completely free guided interview is for Massachusetts tenants who are being evicted. It is estimated to take between 25 and 90 minutes for a typical tenant to use on their own. It will help you make sure that you respond to your landlord's eviction case correctly. It can send you reminders of important dates by text and email. It includes videos and educational links."

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

Guide to eviction actions & defenses in a pandemic world, MCLE, 2021.

Handbook of civil procedure in the Mass. District Court, 5th ed., by Marc G. Perlin, Lawyers Weekly, 2018, chapter 14.

The Massachusetts landlord survival guide, 9th ed. by Philip S. Lapatin, Greater Boston Real Estate Board, 2020.

Massachusetts landlord tenant law, 2nd ed., by George Warshaw, Lexis, with supplement (includes forms) Sample Notices to Quit at Forms 4-1 – 4-5[C].

Landlord and tenant law: with forms3rd edition, (Massachusetts practice, vol. 33A) West Group, 2000 with supplement, chapter 15. Sample Notices to Quit at sections 15:13 – 15:16.

Massachusetts real estate, 3rd ed., by Robert Marzelli, Lexis, with supplement (Includes forms). Sample Notices to Quit at Forms 102, 103.

Property management manual for Massachusetts rental owners, 6th ed., by H. John Fisher, HAPHousing, 2015.

Residential and commercial landlord-tenant practice in Massachusetts, MCLE, 4th ed., 2022. Chapter 11, Termination of residential tenancies, Sample Notices to Quit at Exhibits 11B - 11E, and notes to cases.

Residential landlord-tenant benchbook, Flaschner Judicial Institute, 2013.

Contact for Massachusetts law about eviction

Last updated: September 11, 2023

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