A notice to quit is the first step in Massachusetts a landlord must take to evict a residential or commercial tenant. It is a legal document that formally notifies the tenant that the tenancy will be terminated on a specific date. The time limit for notices to quit are outlined by law, and the two most common are the 14-day notice to quit and the 30-day notice to quit. There are specific rules outlining which notice to quit must be used, what the notice to quit must say, and how the notice to quit should be served. If these rules are not strictly adhered to, the eviction action could be dismissed. That costs you both time and money as the landlord. To get it done right, always consult a landlord-tenant attorney.
Marco Sandonato is an experienced eviction attorney serving the Greater Boston metropolitan area. He will guide you through the process, draft the notices for you, make sure service is conducted properly, negotiate with the tenant when applicable, file the eviction action when it is time, and generally make sure that you are in compliance.
When is a 14-Day Notice to Quit Required in Boston?
A 14-Day Notice to Quit is the proper Notice to use when a tenant has failed to pay rent – this is true whether or not there's a lease. Failure to pay rent occurs when the due date for the rent has passed as well as any grace period provided by the lease to pay the rent.
For example, rent may be due on the first of each month, but you are allotted four additional days without penalty to pay the rent. In the scenario, rent – if not received – is officially unpaid or overdue on the sixth day of the month.
Also, it is unlawful for you as the landlord to include in a lease a clause that states you can end the tenancy for non-payment of rent in less than 14 days. You can, however, specify a longer period. But you should consult with a landlord-tenant lawyer in the Boston area to confirm what the period is best for you.
When is a 30-Day Notice to Quit Required in Boston?
A 30-Day Notice to Put is used in all other situations:
- violation of the lease other than non-payment;
- violation of the law (e.g., using drugs on the premises); or
- no reason or no fault.
The 30-Day Notice to Quit, however, is only necessary when the lease does not specify the notice period. Some leases may provide for a 7-Day Notice to Quit for reasons other than non-payment of rent, and this 7-Day Notice is legal.
Also, you should keep in mind that a 30-Day Notice to Quit is not used in situations where:
- the tenant has a lease; and
- there are more than 30 days remaining on the lease; and
- there is no legal cause (e.g., breach of contract) for the tenant to quit the premises except that you no longer want the tenant leasing your property.
When these three conditions are present, you must wait out the remainder of the lease and then simply not renew it. You should look at the lease for specific language, and if you have questions about it, always consult with an attorney to make sure your actions are within the law.
What Information is Required in a Notice to Quit?
A notice to quit must be drafted according to the law. The is one area where many landlords fail to execute properly and are shocked when a case is dismissed because of it. At a minimum, your Notice to Quit must include:
- the names of all the tenants (all persons who signed the lease or all adults constituting a tenancy at will);
- the tenant's correct address;
- the reason for the termination of tenancy; and, among other information,
- how the tenant can cure the problem if it is a tenant at will, meaning there's no lease.
The language used is very specific, too. Depending on the circumstances, non-waiver language may also be required or otherwise beneficial. All in all, how you word the notice can affect how effective it is (or isn't).
How Should Service of the Notice be Conducted?
If the eviction case goes to court, you as the landlord have the burden to prove the tenant received the notice. Improper service can cause you problems. At Sandonato Law, we work with a network of trusted, reliable Constables and Deputy Sheriffs to make sure we have proper proof of service.
What Happens if the Tenant Tries to Cure?
If the notice to quit was for nonpayment of rent and the tenant pays it within the specified period of time, then you must accept it and the cure has been made. The same is true for breaches of a lease if the breach is cured within the specified time period.
When it's a matter of a problematic tenancy at will, you may have other options to terminate the tenancy. That's why it's always a good idea to consult with an experienced landlord-tenant attorney.
Contact an Experienced Eviction Attorney in Boston Today
If you have questions about a tenant, contact Sandonato Law today. We work with landlords to help make sure the leases you draft are in your favor, and if they are breached in any way, either by nonpayment or something else, we will help you make sure the process is followed properly and timely. Contact us today either online or at 617-481-2742 to schedule a consultation.