The three most common reasons for evicting a tenant are the non-payment of rent, the expiration of the lease, or a violation of the lease. The first step in an eviction is to determine what kind of lease exists between the tenant and the landlord. There are two main types of tenancies, a tenancy at will and a tenancy under lease. A tenancy at will is usually identified by the provision it has for termination, stating that either party in the lease, the landlord or tenant, can terminate the agreement by giving a written Notice to Quit that states the relationship will end in a time that is equal to a rental payment or thirty days, whichever is longer.

Why Use The Sheriff's Office?

The Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office conducts numerous evictions every year. Our office has decades of experience handling commercial and residential evictions. The process of eviction can be arduous for everyone involved. We work closely with attorneys and landlords to enforce their Execution for Possession. We can negotiate with the tenant on behalf of the Plaintiff/landlord or if communication is no longer a viable option, physically evict the tenant after the required 48 hour notice period has elapsed. The sheriff’s office has handled all manners of evictions from residential evictions to complicated and litigious commercial evictions like warehouses, restaurants, retail store chains and racetracks. Norfolk Deputy Sheriffs are trained to minimize both cost and liability.

Our initial goal is to convince the tenant to move out on their own as this solution is the best solution for both parties, especially the landlord. The Plaintiff/ Landlord saves thousands of dollars in moving costs and the tenant is able to move on without facing additional and costly collection litigation. In the majority of evictions enforced by this office our Deputies convince the tenant to move out on their own.

Norfolk Deputy Sheriff’s stay current with Mass General Laws and are prepared to deal with any situation regardless of how complicated.

Serving A Notice To Quit

The length of notice required varies based upon the type of tenancy and the reason for eviction. Forms for both 14 and 30 day notices are available below. For more information on the required notice please visit https://www.mass.gov/service-details/find-out-when-a-landlord-can-evict-a-tenant

Most evictions arise over non-payment of rent.

  • Tenancy at will: the landlord must give a written Notice to Quit that allots the tenant 14 days to vacate the property, or to pay in full the rent owed along with interest and cost of suit, to the landlord or the attorney representing the landlord.

  • Tenancy is under lease: If reason for the termination of the lease is nonpayment, a Notice to Quit must be given to the tenant, who has 14 days to comply.

Evictions for reasons other than non-payment of rent

Serving A Summary Process Summons

After the Notice to Quit has expired, the landlord may serve a Summary Process Summons and Complaint form upon the tenant. This document must be obtained from the court, and can only be served by those who have the proper qualifications and training, such as Norfolk County Deputy Sheriffs. The Summary Process Summons and Complaint instructs the tenant when to come to court, as well as instructing them to file an answer with the court before trial. If the tenant does not arrive at court on their scheduled trial date, the landlord may automatically be granted a judgement in their favor.

Serving An Execution For Possession

If the landlord prevails in the Summary Process Summons and Complaint case, the tenant has ten days to comply and vacate the property. After the ten days have passed, the landlord can request an Execution for Possession. The landlord cannot cut off essential services, lock out a tenant, or remove a tenant from the premises by themselves. The landlord can only evict the tenant with the assistance of a deputy sheriff. A court ordered execution authorizing the eviction is addressed to the deputy sheriff, and they are required to give 48 hours notice to the tenant before the actual eviction is to take place. Executions for Possession are valid for 90 days from the date of issue and the eviction must be completed during this time.

How Evictions Work At The Sheriff's Office

Step 1: Serve 14 or 30 Notice to Quit- Please submit a completed Notice to Quit (available below), Pro Se Cover Sheet and prepayment. Once served this document has been served it will be returned to you and will need to be filed with the court once the notice period has elapsed.

Step 2: Serve Summary Process Summons and Complaint- This document can be obtained from the court after filing the notice to quit. Please make sure to complete all required fields (See Sample). If you have any questions on the dates please contact our office for assistance. Please submit a completed Summary Process Summons and Complaint (available below), Pro Se Cover Sheet, and prepayment. Once served this document served it will be returned to you and must be filed with the court by the entry Date listed.

Step 3: Serve Execution for Possession-Submit the original Execution for Possession, Eviction Request form including moving company*, and retainer to the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office. If a landlord prevails at the summary process hearing, the court will after 10 days issue an execution for possession. This document allows the Sheriff’s Office to forcibly evict the tenant. For Residential Evictions, a 48-hour notice is required and will be served by our office informing the defendant of the date and time of the eviction and the information of the moving and storage company.

If the defendant cannot be convinced to move out voluntarily within the 48 hour period a Deputy Sheriff will arrive at the location and take possession of the property. The tenant’s property will be transported to the predetermined storage facility and possession of the property will be returned to the landlord.


The landlord must hire and identify within their eviction request a moving company to accompany the Deputy Sheriff on the eviction. The moving company must meet the statutory criteria outlined in G.L. 239 ss. 3-4. A list published by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security is available here. The company must be on this list. If you have any questions regarding choosing a mover, please contact our office.

Once a mover has been selected and approved our office will contact the mover and schedule the eviction as soon as possible. If you have any specific scheduling needs our office can work with you to set a date to fit your or your client’s schedule.

Helpful Links

Links for tenants and landlords regarding the eviction process, laws, and court proceedings in Massachusetts.
Eviction for Landlords
Eviction for Tenants
Massachusetts Eviction Laws
Eviction Storage Law
Approved Movers


Pre Se Drop Off Sheet
14 Day Notice To Quit Form
30 Day Notice To Evict Without Cause
Eviction Request Form