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Legal Information: Massachusetts

Housing Laws

Updated: 
January 31, 2021

Who is protected by these housing laws?

A tenant or co-tenant can terminate the rental agreement or tenancy if s/he or a household member is a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or stalking.1 To read what needs to be done before leaving, so that the tenant or co-tenant can be covered by the protections of this law, see What protections do these laws offer?

1 M.G.L. 186 § 24(a)

What protections do these laws offer?

Massachusetts offers two main tenancy-related laws that protect victims of abuse and their household members:

  1. You have the right to terminate your rental agreement (lease) or tenancy by:
  2. giving written notice to the landlord within three months of the most recent incident of abuse that a member of the household was a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or stalking; or
  3. giving written notice to the landlord that a member of the household is reasonably in fear of immediate serious physical harm from domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or stalking.1
  4. If you request it, the landlord/owner must change your locks if the tenant, co-tenant, or household member reasonably believes that s/he is under an immediate 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

1 M.G.L. 186 § 24
2 M.G.L. 186 § 26