OLR Research Report

July 26, 2005




By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney

You asked if any state bans winter evictions and for a comparison of Massachusetts' eviction laws to Connecticut's.

No state bans winter evictions. In the late 1990s, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors called for the creation of an Emergency Rent Payment Plan and Voucher System to address homelessness among that city's welfare population. This resolution included a ban on evictions during winter months, which grew out of a campaign for such a ban led by a coalition of three Milwaukee community groups. The resolution did not pass.

Although the eviction process varies slightly from state to state, the process begins in most states, including Massachusetts, when a landlord serves a tenant with a demand to vacate leased premises. The next step is typically for the tenant to vacate or otherwise respond to the landlord's demand. If the tenant has reasons for not vacating, the matter is usually set for trial. Judgment is entered after the trial. If the court decides in favor of the landlord, a date is set to execute the judgment.

The remainder of this report compares the process for the most common ground for evicton—nonpayment of rent. Other grounds for eviction include illegal conduct or serious nuisance and violation of lease agreement. Table 1 shows the different stages of the eviction process in Connecticut and Massachusetts.




Notice to Quit. Landlords must give tenants a three-day notice to vacate the premises. Tenancy terminates three days later unless the tenat pays the rent (CGS 47a-23 (a)).

Notice to Quit. Landlords must give tenants a 14-day notice to vacate the premises. The tenant has 10 days after receiving the notice to pay the rent. If the rent remains unpaid, the tenancy terminates on the 14th day (186 MGLA 11).

Summons and Complaints. If the tenant does not quit possession by the end of the three-day period, any commissioner of the Superior Court may issue a summons and complaint to be served upon the tenant. The complaint may be served on any day of the week and may be made returnable six days after service upon the tenant and must be returned to the court at least three days before the return day (CGS 47a-23a).

Summons and Complaint. To start a summary process action, a landlord must serve a tenant with a summons and complaint between three and seven days before the entry date (the date by which the landlord must file the complaint with the court) (239 MGLA 2 and Mass. Uniform Summary Process Rules (SPR 2)).

Appearance. A tenant must respond to the summons and complaint by filing an appearance with the court within two days after the return date. If the tenant does not file an appearance, the landlord may file (1) a motion for judgment for failure to appear and (2) an endorsed copy of the notice to quit with the court clerk. The court must then enter a judgment against the tenant and issue an order to vacate (CGS 47a-26).

(see Answer below)

Answer to Complaint. In addition to filing an appearance, the tenant should file a summary process answer within two days after the return date. If the tenant does not do this, a landlord can file a motion for judgment based on failure to plead. And if the tenant fails to plead within three days after receipt of the motion by the clerk, the court must enter judgment against the tenant (CGS 47a-26a).

Answer. Once a landlord serves a tenant with a summons and complaint, the tenant has 10 days to appear in court to file an answer that specifies any defenses or counterclaims. If an answer is not filed by the answer date, the court may enter a default judgment against the tenant (239MGLA -2A, and -8A).


Discovery. A tenant facing eviction has a right to get information and documents from a landlord to prepare and prove his case. The tenant may request discovery on or by the answer date by filing discovery documents with the court and delivering a copy to the landlord with a trial postponement notice. A request for discovery postpones the eviction hearing for two weeks, allowing the landlord time to respond (SPR 7).

Trial. A trial is scheduled after pleadings are closed (after the complaint has been answered and any special defenses have been raised and countered) (CGS 47a-26d).

Trial. A trial is scheduled after pleadings are closed (after the complaint has been answered and any special defenses have been raised and countered).




Judgment. The court enters a judgment after the trial.

Judgment and Execution. The court enter judgment the day after the eviction hearing (239 MGLA 3).

Stay of Execution. The law provides for an automatic five-day stay of execution (CGS 47a-35). During these five days, tenants may request an additional stay of up to three months (CGS 47a-37 and -39).

Stay of Execution. Courts are not authorized to grant a stay of execution in nonpayment of rent cases. However, no judgment can be executed until after the period within which a tenant can appeal (i.e., within 10 days after the date judgment is entered) (239 MGLA 9 and 10 and SPR 13).

Execution. If judgment is entered for the landlord (and after any stay has expired), he must ask the court for an order requiring the tenant to move. The landlord gives the order of execution to a state marshal for proper service. The marshal uses reasonable efforts to locate the tenant and serve him with notice of the eviction date and time. After this period, the marshal can physically remove the tenant's possession onto the street (CGS 47-26d and -42).

Execution. If judgment is entered for a landlord, the next step is for him to have it executed. When the landlord gets the execution, he must give it to a constable or sheriff in the county where the property is located. The constable or sheriff must give the tenant 48 hours notice that he is going to be evicted (239MGLA 3).