Non-Renewal of Lease

Non-Renewal of Lease Form

Resource Person:

Douglas Quattrochi - Doug

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For this business update, we’ll be talking about our non-renewal of lease form, which is new as of August 23rd.

So I hope everybody knows there are basically four types of rental agreements in Massachusetts: a lease, a tenancy at will, a tenant at sufferance, and a license. Landlords basically can’t use licenses, so we’ll exclude that and tenancy at will [unintelligible 0:00:22] is an eviction term as well, so we don’t need to worry about that. This business update is really about the interplay between lease and tenancy at will.

Now with your permission, if a renter is allowed to stay on after lease and the lease doesn’t have an auto-renew clause, any tenancy will automatically convert from a lease to a tenancy at will under the same conditions. So if the lease said no smoking and no pets, and the tenancy at will has the same no smoking no pets restrictions except the term has gone from the lease term to typically month-to-month.

If you don’t have permission as a renter to stay after, you will have to leave, so it’s a good idea to find out from the landlord, and as a landlord, it’s our job to be explicit when we’re thinking about ending a tenancy.

It’s good to send our non-renewal of lease form, or it could be any kind of letter. The law doesn’t really specify what it has to be, but our non-renewal of lease form gives a lot of food for thought. It reminds renters that they have to leave the place as they found it. It reminds them that they are going to report things that are broken for security deposits or other reasons, and that we, as landlords, have an obligation to continue to make repairs, so that’s good for both sides.

If you follow the QR code in this video, you’ll go to our Non-renewal of Lease page where you may already be, and you can download PDF and Word file to customize and send the letter as you would like.

Now there’s a legal sidenote here. Massachusetts Law is very particular that leases definitely do end. As a matter of fact, Chapter 239 Section 1A says if a renter tells a landlord that they’re definitely not leaving at the end of the lease term and the landlord has said I want the lease to end, you can’t stay over as a tenant-at-will, then actually a landlord can bring a case in court before the renter even overstays.

There are very clear restrictions on that. It doesn’t apply in every situation, but if you’re interested in that, you can look up Chapter 239 Section 1A.

Overall though, remember as a landlord we provide housing and especially if we’re a Certified Massachusetts Landlord, we’ve made a commitment to engage in dialogue when disputes arise. So if the renter says, “I can’t leave on that date when my lease ends, I need more time,” or if in general if they’re not really able to go find housing elsewhere, really think about that lease termination. Make sure you have good reason for doing it. If you can delay a renovation to help somebody have more time to find alternate housing if that housing is substandard and you need to make repairs or whatever it is, make sure you terminate for good reason because it’s tough out there and we don’t want anyone to get into a situation, renter or landlord, where if we have just waited a little bit and extended the tenancy, things would be better for everybody.

When in doubt, consult with an attorney or ask a member on our message boards.

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Sample of Massachusetts tenancy at will rental agreement

MassLandlords is a nonprofit dedicated to helping owners rent their property. We try our best, but we can't guarantee these forms will always work. We provide legal information but never advice particular to your situation. Nothing on this site is meant to create an attorney-client relationship. We advise you consult with an attorney.