What are my rights and responsibilities if I had to vacate my rental early due to domestic violence?

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What are my rights and responsibilities if I had to vacate my rental early due to domestic violence?

I have lived in a 1 bedroom apartment for 2 years with my children. I had a 1 year lease and at the end of it no new agreement was made; I simply continued paying my rent to landlord and nothing was said. I am currently staying with family due to a domestic violence displacement and gave my landlord less than a 30 day notice. Upon this he just called me back with now 5 days left until next month telling me this is not okay and that I owe him rent for next month. He also said that they will be entering property at their leisure to perform “repairs and repainting” so that a new tenant can move in mid-month.

Asked on May 26, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

MA allows a victim of domestic violence (or rape, sexual assault, or stalking) to terminate their tenancy by providing the landlord with copy of a protection order, police report, or documentation of consultation with one of several specified service providers; this must be done within 90 days of the last reported incident of domestic violence. After terminating the lease, the tenant is free from liability for future rent. Additionally, they are also entitled to pro rata return of any pre-paid rent.

At this point you must make your landlord aware of the law.  If they still harass you for rent, then you should consult with a tenants' advocacy group or an attorney that handles landlord-tenant matters (possibly Legal Aid if you qualify).

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your tenancy is no longer a year term but a month to month. If you moved out with less than 30 days notice, you would be responsible for one month's rent. What your landlord is doing is trying to mitigate his damages and consequently yours by trying to get new tenants. If your state allows you no penalty for having to be moved due to domestic violence, then you need to contact either your advocate or your attorney and see if that communication with the landlord can help you. Further, contact the office of the attorney general and see if its consumer protection bureau can help you with this matter without compromising your privacy.


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