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Tenancy at will in Massachusetts: How to end it

When you hear about or agree to a tenancy at will in Massachusetts, the first thing you may imagine is that since it is a pretty informal arrangement, then it must be pretty easy to terminate as well, right? Wrong.

If you have offered your tenant a tenancy at will in Massachusetts, then all your conduct regarding how you can approach or terminate it is governed by Chapter 186, Section 12 of Massachusetts General law.

As a non-lawyer, it is very unlikely that you would’ve picked up a copy of the state’s guiding laws to study what Massachusetts renters’ rights are under a tenancy-at-will agreement. It is no wonder that many of your attempts to terminate a tenancy at will in Massachusetts will be nullified. You need the right team of housing attorneys who have adequate knowledge of landlord-tenant law in Massachusetts.

Our housing attorneys have put together a checklist of all you need to know before you can terminate a tenancy at will in Massachusetts. This article will walk you through the complexities of the law regarding MA renters’ rights and explain it to you in a language you understand. But first, what is a tenancy at will in Massachusetts?

What is a tenancy at will in Massachusetts?

A tenancy at-will arrangement is pretty common. You may have a tenancy at-will agreement with one or more of your tenants but not realize it.

A tenancy-at-will agreement is an informal or “mouth-to-mouth” type of tenancy arrangement. This means that while all the traditional expectations of a landlord-tenant relationship are usually in place, the agreement is informal (usually done via a word-of-mouth agreement).

This agreement often can be terminated the same way it was made – via word of mouth at the will of either landlord or tenant. You may have agreed to a tenancy at will in Massachusetts if any of the following details are present in your unique case:

  • You and the tenant made a lease agreement via word of mouth.
  • You and the tenant have a written lease with no specified end date.
  • You have a written lease that covers a “month-to-month” tenancy agreement.
  • You have continued to accept rent from a tenant after the date of expiration on their official lease has elapsed and they continue to live on the property.
  • You have served a notice to quit to the tenant but allowed them to stay on the property.

How do you terminate a tenancy at-will arrangement under landlord-tenant law, Massachusetts?

First, a tenancy at will in Massachusetts can be terminated upon the death of either party (landlord or tenant). It cannot be reassigned. You have not terminated your tenancy at will in Massachusetts if you simply lease the property out to someone else.

Initially, landlord-tenant law in Massachusetts didn’t require many official proceedings to terminate a tenancy at-will agreement. It was made via word of mouth, and it could simply be terminated by the same. However, G.L. c. 186, § 12 was newly enacted and stipulates that a notice in accordance with the provisions of the lease must be presented. The following are the provisions of that law:

  1. You must give the tenant a 3 months-notice if rent is owed to you for longer than three months.
  2. If the tenant has neglected their duty to pay rent, you may evict them on a 14-day notice.
  3. If rent is owed for less than 3 months, then you should serve them a 30-day notice or a notice with a time frame equal to the interval between the days of payment.
  4. The notice must have as a time for termination the date on which the rent is payable.

Inconsequential as they may seem, it is extremely important that you honor these statutes if you want your tenancy at-will termination to be deemed valid.

In a nutshell, both oral and written forms of a tenancy-at-will agreement are considered valid.

Previously, tenancy at-will agreements could be ended simply via word of mouth, however, under the provisions of G.L. c. 186, § 12, the landlord is now required to serve the tenant a notice. This notice must be compliant with all the provisions of the act.

Housing attorney, Massachusetts. Call 877-700-5790.

Are you a Massachusetts landlord stuck googling up searches for “housing lawyers near me?” Well, you don’t have to look any further.

At Consumer Rights Law Firm, we have a track record of winning cases and putting you first. In addition, we have a team of experienced and well-trained lawyers already to fight on your behalf.

Just give us a call at 877-700-5790, and we’ll take it from there!