Massachusetts Lease Termination Notice


Purpose. A Massachusetts lease termination letter (“Notice to Vacate”) is a required document to end month-to-month lease agreements in Massachusetts. State law requires giving at least 30 days notice for termination. However, state law does not require notice to be given to end fixed term lease agreements on their end date.

Read further to learn more about notice requirements and the residential lease termination process in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Notice Requirements for Lease Termination by Tenant

With a year-to-year lease, which is similar to a fixed-term or standard lease, the lease renews yearly until it’s canceled. This will happen in perpetuity until the appropriate notice is provided, which in Massachusetts, must be provided within 30 days of the renewal date.
Fixed-term or standard leases require a notification period of at least 30 days.
In Massachusetts, a month-to-month lease requires both the landlord and the tenant to provide at least 30 days’ worth of notice before an intent to have the premises made vacant is tendered.

Legally Terminating a Lease Early in Massachusetts

If the tenant is starting active military duty, he or she may terminate a fixed-term lease. This falls under the War and National Defense Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Written notice must be furnished and the tenancy terminates in 30 days.

If two parties are engaged in an at-will lease, which is also known as a month-to-month lease, then both parties will also have the option to end the lease when the need arrives without incurring the penalties that can be incurred with a fixed-term lease. As a result, many individuals consider the month-to-month lease to be a much more open and freeing agreement when searching for temporary housing.

With a lease of this type, the landlord and the renter can derive several critical benefits. These include:

  • Freedom to Search for More Appealing Living Arrangements: Sometimes, some properties aren’t always available. When an individual is looking for a new place to dwell, he or she may need to wait a few months before they can move in. For this reason, finding a month-to-month rental can be advantageous, and when it’s time to move into the preferred dwelling, the renter will only need to supply a termination notice one month before moving out.
  • Freedom to Increase the Rent: Since one of these rentals renews monthly, a landlord can opt to raise the rent as often as they prefer. If the rent becomes too prohibitive, the renter can simply file a lease termination and find another dwelling.
  • Freedom to Only Rent Periodically: In situations where a landlord only wants to rent out a unit during certain times of the year, a month-to-month can be very advantageous. When the period ends, the mere serving of the termination notice is an indication that the lease will be ending soon.
    Freedom to Live in a Certain Area Part of the Time: For renters, a month-to-month allows them to stay in an area part of the year without having to pay rent for the times when they are not around. Once again, when the period ends, the termination notice provides all of the legal documentation that’s needed.

Unlike a Notice to Quit in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, a lease termination notice in this part of the country will not incur any breach of contract repercussions. This form will serve as the final document that will finalize the relationship, but it’s important to understand that the commonwealth will require that both the lessor and the lessee provide a “heads up” period of at least 30 days so that the other party can prepare for the premises to become vacant.

It’s important to note that some at-will lease agreements have special requirements that may stipulate that either party must provide more than the state-mandated 30-day notice, so it’s important to refer to the initial document before serving this type of notice. Additionally, in situations where the landlord violates the rental agreement or violates the privacy of his renter, then the 30-day notice period may potentially be avoided. Also, for the landlord, if the tenant is performing illegal activities while in the unit, such as the sale of illicit drugs, then this is also grounds for immediate lease termination without the 30-day notice period.

These at-will rentals, in many situations, are done off the books, but it’s preferable to have a documented lease so that both parties are protected. Once a form is drawn up, the tenant is protected from the landlord simply locking his or her renter out when he or she wants to get a new lessee. Similarly, laws based around at-will rentals will also protect the landlord from a tenant suddenly abandoning the unit without notice, which can be a major financial pitfall.

Using a Lease Termination Notice for a Fixed-Term Lease

Clearly, these types of notices are common when the two parties use an at-will lease, but they can also be used for fixed-term leases, but it’s important to understand that this may result in penalties. One of these penalties is an adverse effect on the credit of the lessee that opts to leave the lease early. Still, Massachusetts law states that the landlord is required to mitigate damages, so as long as there is a replacement renter, the landlord must accept them as a replacement.

Still, commonwealth law states that the lease can include a clause that holds the renter responsible for paying the landlord to cover any losses that may stem from terminating a fixed-term lease. Typically, this includes repairs that may be covered by the security deposit, but other costs may potentially crop up like the cost of cleaning and repainting the unit.

It’s also worth noting that federal law protects individuals that are starting military service and those that are victims of certain types of violence. Also, the lease may protect a tenant that is experiencing a family emergency, sudden job loss, or death in the family. Finally, if the property has serious safety risks or is deemed not habitable, these are situations that may necessitate one of these lease termination documents. In these cases, the renter will be deemed constructively evicted and will not be deemed in breach of contract.

How to Write a Lease Termination Notice

As one might expect, there’s an implicit need for a document like this to be all-inclusive so that it can be deemed legal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This type of lease grants many freedoms, but the lease termination should include as many details as possible so that it can’t be challenged by the other party. For this reason, when writing a lease termination notice, it’s a good idea to both include a copy of the original lease as well as to utilize the original lease for gathering information.

To start, the original lease signing date should be printed clear at the top of the document so that a timeline is established. Once this is provided, here are several other sections that should be included:

The Information of the Opposite Party
Since this document is being served to either the lessee or the lessor, it’s imperative to clearly state the recipient so that there’s no confusion. In Massachusetts, receipt must be verified, so the full name of the receiving party, whether it is the tenant, landlord, or management company, should appear precisely as it appeared on the initial lease.

Information about the Property

Next, the property should be clearly described so that there’s no confusion in the courts. Here are a few identifying factors to include:

  • The building number
  • The unit number
  • The street name
  • Any associated side streets
  • The county in which the property is located
  • The city
  • The zip code

Lease Information

One of the most important aspects of a Massachusetts lease termination notice is the section that provides information about the original lease. Not only is this good for those that are citing reasons for ending the lease, but it also explicitly outlines the circumstances in which the lease was initially signed.

This part will clearly show that the other party understood the rules of the lease when signing, and it will also state the period of time allotted by the state and the lease terms that are required for notice. Finally, this is also the section that specifies the month-to-month nature of the rental. Throughout the country, a lease like this only technically lasts for a single month and automatically renews in perpetuity, so having this information also provides a timeframe for the lease itself.

Signature Section

The final section of the document will be the signature section, where both parties are expected to provide their consent. Not only must the parties sign their name, but they must also print their full names and date the document for legality. Since this document is often sent by a dedicated agent, then there should also be a section that will require that the server verifies receipt of the document by the other party, a legal representative, or via first-class mail. The server must also sign this section as well.

Some Additional Information to Consider

In addition to the previously-noted sections, it’s also a good idea for the tenant that’s moving out to include a forwarding address to the landlord. This has advantages in regards to the security deposit, and the information can also be used for other purposes.

It’s essential to remember that the security deposit must be returned within 30 days according to Massachusetts law, but without a forwarding address, this fee may be kept by the landlord. For this reason, if the tenant is the one providing the notice, this information will need to be provided. Of course, if there is damage to the property that has occurred during the tenancy, the landlord will be allowed to use this fee for repairs, but the landlord must state the condition of the property and the need to repair within 10 days of the property becoming vacant.

The furnishing of the forwarding address somewhere on the termination notice also provides a means for the landlord to forward any documentation to the tenant after the tenancy has ended.