A tenant or co-tenant may terminate his/her rental agreement (lease) or tenancy by:
- giving written notice to the landlord within three months of the most recent incident that a member of the household was a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking; or
- giving written notice to the landlord that a member of a tenant’s household is reasonably in fear of immediate serious physical harm from domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking.1
The owner/landlord has the right to request proof that the person is a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking and can even ask for the name of the abuser/perpetrator.1
To read more information about how long a person has to leave the home after giving notice, the return of a person’s security deposit, and what proof is sufficient to prove the violence to the landlord, you can read section 24 of the law on our Selected Massachusetts Statutes page.
The law also says that if you request it, the landlord/owner must change the locks of the individual dwelling unit in which the tenant, co-tenant, or household member lives if the s/he reasonably believes that s/he is under an immediate threat of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking. If the abuser/perpetrator is also a tenant, co-tenant or household member, you have to provide a copy of a protective order or a record from a federal, state or local court or law enforcement, indicating that the abuser poses an immediate (imminent) threat of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking. If the owner/landlord doesn’t change the locks within two business days of the request, you can get them changed yourself. Note: The owner can charge you a reasonable fee to change the locks.2
To read more information about changing your locks, you can read section 26 of the law on our Selected Massachusetts Statutes page.
1 M.G.L.A 186 § 24
2 M.G.L.A 186 § 26