This varies depending on the type of tenancy.
1. A tenancy-at-will: either oral or written. Either party may terminate a month-to-month tenancy-at-will by giving a written 30 day notice to quit that must expire at the end of a rental period.
2. Tenancy under a lease: If there is an unexpired lease, the lease will determine the permissible grounds for termination, the notice requirements, and the required length of time for the notice. If a lease expires, no further notice to quit is needed because the lease itself contains a term that tells the tenant when the tenancy ends. If the tenancy converts to a tenancy-at-will after expiration of the lease, however, it must be terminated by giving a written notice to quit.
For either type when there is non-payment of rent, a written fourteen (14) days notice to quit is required, unless the lease provides otherwise.
The landlord needs to give a written notice to quit to the tenant.
All forms needed are here:
If the tenant fails to vacate, then the landlord must proceed with the purchasing and completing a summary process summons and complaint from the court. The summons and complaint sets the date for trial and must be served on the tenant by an authorized constable or sheriff. Once service of the summons and complaint is completed, the landlord may start the summary process case by filing it with the court. Sample here: http://www.mass.gov/courts/docs/forms/district/summary-process-complaint-rev.pdf
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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.