Landlord's 14-Day Notice to Quit due to Nonpayment of Rent in Massachusetts

Last Updated: January 21, 2023.

About this Form

This form letter is a legally-compliant 14-Day Notice to Quit due to nonpayment of rent in Massachusetts. It is professionally crafted to meet the requirements outlined in Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 186, section 11A. This notice letter serves as the first step in the eviction process, giving the tenant the option to either pay all past-due rent, including any late fees, within 14 days of receipt of the letter or to vacate the premises. The form letter is a standard, unlocked Microsoft Word document, reusable, customizable to fit your specific situation, and can be downloaded immediately after purchase.
How to Start the Eviction Process in Massachusetts

The following essay describes the steps you need to take to end a tenancy and how to start the eviction process.

Step 1: Read the Lease

Before beginning the eviction process, review your lease agreement to see what it says about a tenant's default. The first step in evicting a tenant is for the landlord to terminate the tenancy. If the reason for terminating the tenancy is nonpayment of rent, the landlord must notify the tenant that they have 14 days to move out (called a "notice to quit"). If the lease requires more or less than 14 days or contains other requirements, the lease takes precedence, according to Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 186, section 11A.

Step 2: Determine the Type of Tenancy

The eviction process varies depending on the type of tenancy you have with your tenant, so the landlord must understand what kind of tenancy exists. The two main types of tenancies are (1) tenancy-at-will and (2) tenancy under a lease.


A tenancy-at-will, which is an agreement between a landlord and tenant that is not bound by a specific term or contract, can be established either verbally or in writing. In the case of a month-to-month tenancy-at-will, the landlord or tenant may terminate the agreement by providing written notice of termination, which must be at least 30 days and expire at the end of a rental period (i.e., a complete 30-day period). Be careful in the case of termination in February. If the notice of termination is provided in February, which has less than 30 days, realize that the notice must be provided to the tenant on January 29 if the landlord wants the tenant to vacate by February 28.


If the lease is for a fixed term (such as one year) and has not expired, review the lease to determine the acceptable grounds for termination of the tenancy, the notice requirements, and the required length of time for the notice. If the lease has expired, no notice of termination is required as the lease itself dictates the termination date of the tenancy. However, if the tenancy becomes a tenancy-at-will after the lease has expired, written notice of termination must be provided.

Step 3: Deliver the Notice to Quit

To initiate the eviction process, the landlord must provide the tenant with a proper 14-Day Notice to Quit. The purpose of this notice is to terminate the tenancy agreement. The tenant must receive the notice for it to be considered legally valid. Unless the lease agreement has expired, the notice to quit must be in writing. The notice must clearly state the date on which the tenancy will end.

To deliver the Notice to Quit to the tenant properly, a landlord or authorized agent may personally deliver the notice in the presence of a disinterested third party. The tenant may not have legally received the notice if:

A. The notice is left at the tenant's last known address by a constable or sheriff, but the tenant does not receive it.

B. The notice is sent by mail, but the tenant does not retrieve it.

When evicting a tenant for violating a lease term or non-payment of rent, you must note the reason for eviction in the notice to quit. Special rules may apply to certain rental properties, such as mobile home parks, residential hotels, dormitories, community residences, and properties that receive government subsidies. If your property falls into one of these categories, review the lease and program regulations to ensure compliance with the requirements for ending the tenancy.

Step 4: Obtain a Summary Process Summons and Complaint (if tenant did not vacate)

If the tenant does not vacate the property by the end of the 14-day notice period, the landlord must purchase and complete a Summary Process (Eviction) Summons and Complaint form from the clerk's office in the court in which the landlord intends to file (the county where the rental property is located). This document sets a date for trial and must be served to the tenant by an authorized constable or sheriff. Once served, the landlord can file the case with the court.

If a notice to quit was previously served and the tenant has not vacated, filing a new one is usually unnecessary unless the landlord waives its right to evict under the previous notice.

After the notice period has ended and a court has been selected, the landlord may proceed with an eviction case. If the tenant has already moved out, the landlord may still file a lawsuit for unpaid rent or other damages in a civil or small claims case. The small claims process offers an informal option for individuals who choose not to seek legal representation. The Massachusetts Uniform Small Claims Rules contains the regulations for small claims actions in Massachusetts. The maximum monetary damages permitted in a small claims case is $7,000. If a tenant owes $8,000 in rent, the small claims judgment is limited to only $7,000, with the remaining $1,000 of unpaid rent forfeited.