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Victims of Domestic Abuse May Break Their Lease and Demand Their Security Deposit BackIf you have been the victim of domestic abuse or your roommate/partner has threaten you with violence, you may break your lease and demand your security deposit and last month’s rent back. The Massachusetts law protects you. After years of debate between tenant and landlord industry group leaders, a bill of protection was passed in the state of Massachusetts. Designed to protect the tenant’s immediate safety, the law allows people to legally break their leases if they are a victim of domestic violence.

If you are victim of domestic abuse and wish to break your lease, please get in contact today.

There are several stipulations set in place that make the law work. Follow these rules, and the law will protect you if you are in any immediate danger arising from physical or sexual abuse. While anyone is free to break their lease at any time, protection under this new law allows victims to break their leases without financial penalty or obligations.

Follow the Procedure

There is a process laid out for legally breaking leases. You are not protected under law if you do not adhere this process. After a domestic dispute or incident involving abuse, you may wish to move for your own protection. In the past, landlords were not required to allow you out of your lease for reasons beyond his or her control, and domestic abuse falls into this category.

Give Notice with in Three Months

To be let out of your lease, you need to inform your landlord that you are victim within three months of the latest incident. Your landlord may ask for proof that you are a victim. The best-known paper trail evidence is a police report or a restraining order against the perpetrator. This makes the landlord aware of the situation. If the tenant provides proper notice, they will be relieved of their financial obligation for the next month.

Asks the Landlord to Change the Locks

It takes time to move. If you are in immediate danger, you might not have immediate availability to move in time to protect yourself. As soon as you provide notice to the landlord, you may require them to change your locks ~ at your expense. If the landlord fails to act within 48 hours, you may change them. If the aggressor is one of the tenants, the landlord may choose to change the locks and withhold the new key.

As with any law, protections are provided with obedience, and penalties await those who break it. Landlords are protected from having to provide security deposits or rent refunds to aggressors who are tenants. However, owners who fail to comply with the new law are required to pay the tenant an amount equal to three times monthly rent plus legal fees. If the tenant is behind in rent, this value may be placed against the amount owed to recoup previously owed money.


Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Author Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday practices law in Cambridge and Martha's Vineyard Massachusetts. He works in the areas of Real Estate, Personal Injury, and Consumer Protection Law. When not practicing law, Arthur enjoys sailing, hanging out with friends on the beach, and waking his dog "Ridiculous."

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