No one signs a rental agreement with the goal of ending it before the end of their agreed term. Unfortunately, there are many occasions when someone may need help breaking a lease in Massachusetts. While you will generally have to pay a penalty to move out early, there are legal reasons to break a lease in Massachusetts you can use to avoid unnecessary costs.
Table of Contents
Can You Break a Lease in Massachusetts?
You won’t get in major legal trouble for breaking an apartment lease in Massachusetts, but a broken lease can land you in financial trouble. In many cases, you’ll be expected to pay early lease termination fees in Massachusetts of one or two month’s worth of rent for breaking your lease.
A lease is a legal contract you are bound to uphold. When you don’t follow through on your promise to pay rent for the lease’s term, you must pay the penalties listed in the lease. While some states charge up to the entire amount remaining on the lease, most Massachusetts residents just have to pay a penalty of one or two month’s worth of rent.
This penalty isn’t the same for every lease, so it’s important for you to read through your contract. Some landlords make figuring out how to break an apartment lease in Massachusetts easy by carefully detailing the procedure and costs in your lease. In some cases, landlords will make breaking a lease in Massachusetts penalty-free as long as you have upheld all of the terms of your lease.
Massachusetts Tenants Rights When Breaking a Lease
Trying to find out how to break a lease legally in Massachusetts? More importantly, how do you get out of a lease early without having to pay a major penalty?
When breaking a lease in Massachusetts, there are a few ways you can end your lease without having to pay any penalty. These rules are extremely specific and you will most likely need documentation to back them up.
A lease is a legal obligation to pay your landlord a fee for a set amount of time. You and your landlord are both held to the terms of the lease. While you are expected to pay for the duration of the lease, your landlord is also obligated to let you live in the unit unless you break the terms of the lease.
If you break MA lease laws like not paying rent, your landlord must give you 14 days’ notice to pay rent or vacate the property. After this time period passes, your landlord can turn in the eviction term. In general, you are expected to pay rent for the entire term, even if you don’t live in the unit.
MA Lease Laws
The Massachusetts Attorney General provides the MA lease laws that oversee landlords and tenants when dealing with all aspects of leasing in the state of MA. Within those laws is something called the State Sanitary Code, Chapter II. This code dictates the minimum standards that a landlord has to follow.
Within those lease laws, the following exceptions are the legal reasons to break a lease in Massachusetts.
Unsafe and Unhealthy Units
How can you legally break a lease? If the unit is unsafe, you can legally end a lease in Massachusetts under Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 111, § 127L and ch. 239 §8A.
Your landlord is legally required to maintain the property according to state and local housing codes. If s/he doesn’t, then you have legally been “constructively evicted”. This term essentially means the landlord has evicted you by making your unit uninhabitable.
If you are trying to figure out how to break an apartment lease in Massachusetts, you have to show there is a major repair problem. This repair issue must be something important, like a lack of heat or a non-working toilet. Additionally, you must follow specific Massachusetts lease laws and procedures for using this reason for breaking a rental lease in Massachusetts.
Active Military Duty
Every state has this exemption for breaking a lease thanks to the War and National Defense Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 App. U.S.C.A. § § 501. If you enter into active military duty after you have officially signed your lease, federal law allows you to break the lease.
To qualify, you must be in one of the uniformed services. This includes the activated National Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s commissioned corps, the Public Health Service’s commissioned corps, and the armed forces.
Figuring out how to break your lease in Massachusetts is simple if you’ve been a victim of domestic violence. According to Mass. Gen. Laws Ann, ch. 186 § 24, you can terminate leases early if you have been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, or stalking. In order to claim this exemption, you must meet legal conditions, like getting a protection order or having a reasonable fear of physical harm.
If you are searching for how to break a lease legally in Massachusetts, landlord harassment could be the answer. If your landlord constantly violates your right to privacy, then the Massachusetts lease laws under Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 186 § 15B(1)(a)consider you “constructively evicted”. Landlord harassment may also involve things like switching off your utilities, replacing your locks, or removing the windows on your unit.
Can You Break a Lease in Massachusetts for Medical Reasons?
Strictly speaking, you can break a lease for any reason you want. The real question is whether you have to pay penalties for it or not under MA lease laws.
Unfortunately, breaking a lease in Massachusetts for medical reasons is treated the same as breaking an apartment lease for any other unqualified reason. To see exactly what happens, you should read through the terms in your personal lease details.
What to Expect After Breaking a Lease in Massachusetts
What happens if you break a lease in Massachusetts? Depending on your lease, the exact process will vary. Because of this, the best thing you can do is read through your rental terms to learn how to break a lease in Massachusetts.
First, you should decide if this is right for you. Whether you are breaking a commercial lease in Massachusetts or a residential one, you should determine the cost of breaking your lease before you move. As long as your lease allows it, you could always sublet your unit for the remainder of your lease and avoid penalty fees.
If you decide to break your lease, you should familiarize yourself with the penalties involved. Massachusetts law requires landlords to mitigate damages from broken leases as stated in the state created document called “A Massachusetts Consumer Guide to Landlord Rights and Responsibilities”. This means your landlord must accept an equally qualified replacement if you find a suitable tenant, and they can’t charge you rent payments.
Assuming you can’t find a tenant to take over the lease, you can always read through loopholes in your lease. While the state law doesn’t let you break a lease for medical reasons or job relocations, your specific lease might include this as an option. At the very least, you can negotiate your penalties with your landlord by reaching out to your landlord as early as possible.
Does Your Landlord Have to Find a New Tenant?
In some states, landlords are legally required to look for suitable tenants right away, so former tenants don’t have to continue paying for rent for the entire term. Unfortunately, Massachusetts tenants rights don’t legally follow the same requirement.
In legal cases, Massachusetts hasn’t supported the idea of landlords being responsible for finding a replacement tenant due to the current resident breaking their lease. Despite this, official documents from the state say landlords must try to find a suitable tenant to mitigate your duty to pay the remainder of the rent.
In general, the best thing you can do is try talking to your landlord and negotiating the terms of your relocation instead of leaving it up to the courts later. While the state may be on your side, they legally won’t require your landlord to find a new tenant.
Breaking a Lease in Massachusetts
While breaking a lease in Massachusetts can be stressful, there are ways you can reduce the penalties you face. Talking to your landlord, reading through your lease, and finding legal reasons to break your lease can help you reduce the amount you eventually have to pay to move out.
After you have finished your lease, you can always reach out to our team of Massachusetts movers for help relocating to your new place! Call Mass Bay Movers today at (978) 587-3775 or complete the Request a Quote form above for a free moving estimate!