Facing eviction? We can help.

Whether you are a renter struggling to make payments or facing eviction, or a landlord with tenants in crisis, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has resources available to help. Legal help and mediation are also available to help low-income tenants and small landlords avoid an eviction.

You can also call 2-1-1 at any time. Get the answers you need. It's free, confidential, and multilingual.

Table of Contents

"I'm behind on rent and facing eviction. How can you help me?"

Help paying your rent

Are you having trouble paying your rent, mortgage or utility bills? Have you lost your job or lost income? Are you at risk of becoming homeless? 

You may be eligible to receive help with paying your rent, mortgage or utility bills. Renters and landlords can access the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program, which can cover utilities, moving costs, and overdue rent costs, as well as future rent in limited situations. Homeowners may be eligible to receive assistance through the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF).

Access to free legal help

Regional legal aid programs assist low-income tenants with referrals, legal information, and legal representation for evictions statewide. Please go here for more information. 

A lawyer can advise you about the law, refer you to resources, fill out and file court papers, and represent you. A lawyer can help advise you before a case gets to court or if a case is in court. The earlier you contact a lawyer the better. 

Mediation between you and your landlord

Massachusetts Community Mediation Centers are offering free pre-court mediation between landlords and tenants for lease disputes in addition to the summary process cases referred through the courts. 

Mediation is a confidential, voluntary and non-judgmental process where a neutral third party (the mediator) helps people resolve differences based on what is important to them. 

"How can I make sure I submit a complete application when applying for RAFT? How can my landlord help?"

COMPLETE application must be submitted to receive money quickly. Please review the following guidance and get the required documentation in order before contacting an administering agency or submitting an application for assistance.

Am I qualified?  

To qualify for RAFT, you must have an income no more than 50% of the area median income (AMI), or 60% of AMI if your household is at risk of domestic violence, and must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability. This could include receiving a Notice to Quit (NTQ), receiving an eviction notice, needing assistance with utility costs, having to move due to health/safety concerns, overcrowding, being doubled up, and more.  

What documents are required when submitting an application? 

A complete application for rental assistance must include:  

  • I.D. for the Head of Household with the full name and date of birth (such as a state issued driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport) 
  • Proof of current housing (such as a lease, tenancy agreement or a tenancy at-will agreement) 
  • Verification of Housing Crisis, such as: 
    • Notice to Quit
    • Eviction (i.e. court summons or eviction notice)
    • Utility Shutoff  (i.e shutoff notice)
    • Doubled Up/Overcrowding (i.e. documentation demonstrating unit too small for household like a letter from the landlord, or a letter from landlord or primary tenant asking the tenant to leave)
    • Health & safety (demonstrate serious health/safety risk, i.e. failed inspection report)
    • Domestic violence (documentation to support allegation, self-statement from applicant)
    • Fire/flood/natural disaster (report of the flood, fire, or natural disaster)
    • Other crisis resulting in loss of housing (documentation demonstrating applicant will be homeless within 30 days
  • Verification of income: DHCD will first try to verify your income using information from the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) or MassHealth; if we can, you don’t need to submit anything. If we can’t verify your income, you’ll be asked to submit any of the following:
    • Two paystubs from the past 60 days, for earned income, plus most recent benefit letters for other types of income (such as social security, child support, or unemployment)

Do I need to let my landlord know I am applying for rental assistance?  

Yes. Let your landlord know you are planning to apply, as they will need to provide the following documents in order to receive payment: 

  • W-9 for property owner
  • Proof of ownership for unit 

How can my landlord help me apply?

Your landlord can help you fill out the online application. With your consent your landlord can submit the application for you.

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"I received a notice to quit. What do I do?"

In Massachusetts, a landlord must send a tenant a Notice to Quit before the landlord can file a summary process (eviction) action. The Notice to Quit is a legal document that formally notifies the tenant that the tenancy will be terminated on a specific date. A Notice to Quit is not an order to leave your home on the date of the lease termination.

NOTE: IF YOU RECEIVE A NOTICE TO QUIT YOU DO NOT NEED TO IMMEDIATELY LEAVE YOUR UNIT. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO A LEGAL PROCEEDING IN WHICH YOU CAN DEFEND AGAINST THE EVICTION. ONLY A COURT ORDER CAN FORCE YOU TO LEAVE YOUR UNIT.

If you have received a Notice to Quit for nonpayment of rent, do not ignore or discard it. You should immediately contact your landlord to try to work out a payment plan. Legal Resource Finder will connect you to information for legal aid programs, nonprofits, government agencies, and court programs that may be able to help you with your legal issue for free or at a low cost. You can apply for assistance from the RAFT program, and you can also contact your local Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC). Each HCEC has staff that can help connect you to resources, information, and services. The HCECs are regional; therefore, you should contact the HCEC closest to your home address. You can also dial 2-1-1 to learn about additional resources available across the state. 

If you own and live in your property and also rent out one or more units, the Volunteer Lawyers Project may be able to provide legal advice or assistance if you are currently in court with a tenant, considering proceeding with an eviction, or dealing with foreclosure or other housing issues. Click here to contact the Volunteer Lawyers Project or call them at 617-603-1700.

Notice to Quit Requirements for Landlords

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has requirements in place for landlords regarding the issuance of notices to quit. As of December 31, 2020, landlords must do the following:  

  1. Together with the notice to quit itself, provide tenants with a completed copy of the Notice to Quit Attestation Form. 
  1. Submit a copy of the notice to quit and the attestation form to EOHED. 

Additional Links and Resources

  • Respond to an eviction against you” - This webpage provides information on tenant rights and requirements during the eviction process and outlines the procedure for responding to an eviction.
  • Eviction for Tenants” - This webpage provides information and resources for tenants related to each step of the eviction process, as well as information on obtaining legal help and other assistance with an eviction.
  • Court forms for eviction”- This webpage provides fillable court forms for tenants to use in responding to evictions.
  • Learn about Court Service Centers” - This webpage provides general information about the Commonwealth’s Court Service Centers. The Centers are available to all court users without legal representation. There are no income or immigration status requirements to access the Centers.

"I live in private, subsidized or public affordable housing and I am unable to pay rent. How can you help?"

If you live in public housing (state or federal units), or eligible privately-owned affordable housing you may be eligible for assistance through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program. You can apply for assistance directly, or with your consent your landlord may apply on your behalf.

"I am facing eviction, what protections do I have?"

In April 2022, Chapter 42 of the Acts of 2022 was signed into law. This extended protections for tenants and requires courts to pause non-payment eviction cases when tenants have pending applications for rental assistance. If you are facing eviction and have not yet applied for assistance, begin the process through the Central Application.

For more information, and to connect with free legal aid for eligible renters ​and small landlords, go to https://evictionlegalhelp.org/.  

"I am a landlord - how can you help me and my tenants?"

Do you have tenants having trouble paying rent? Have your tenants lost a job or lost income? They may be eligible for assistance from the state that will send rent payments directly to you, the landlord.

Landlords can apply for assistance on behalf of tenants:

  • With consent from their tenants, landlords may apply directly for the state’s assistance programs on behalf of their tenants. After speaking with your tenant, contact your regional agency or apply online.

Additional resources for owners of 1-4 family homes. 

  • If you own and live in your property and also rent out one or more units, the Volunteer Lawyers Project may be able to provide legal advice or assistance if you are currently in court with a tenant, considering proceeding with an eviction, or dealing with foreclosure or other housing issues. Click here to contact the Volunteer Lawyers Project or call them at 617-603-1700.
  • You may also be eligible for rental and utilities assistance under the state’s RAFT program, or for mortgage assistance through the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) program. To find out about RAFT, contact your regional housing agency, where you can connect to various resources. You can find your regional housing agency by clicking here or calling 2-1-1 for more information. Complete the Central Application to receive assistance with moving costs, rent, and utilities payments. To find out more about HAF click here.
  • Finally, the Federal CARES Act provides protections for owner-occupants of 1-4 family properties with certain types of mortgages. You can learn about your options, find out if you qualify, and request mortgage relief by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website, contacting a foreclosure counseling agency in your area or reaching out to the consumer assistance unit at the Massachusetts Division of Banks.

Notice to Quit Requirements

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has requirements in place for landlords regarding the issuance of notices to quit. As of December 31, 2020, landlords must do the following: 

  1. Together with the notice to quit itself, provide tenants with a completed copy of the Notice to Quit Attestation Form.
  2. Submit a copy of the notice to quit and the attestation form to EOHED.

Discrimination by a landlord is prohibited

Landlords should be aware that Chapter 151B of the Massachusetts General Laws prohibits discrimination by a landlord against any tenant receiving federal, state, or local housing subsidies, including rental assistance or rental supplements, because the individual is such a recipient.

A landlord's refusal to accept emergency rental assistance, that covers the entire amount owed to the landlord, may, in some circumstances, constitute a violation of Chapter 151B.  Landlords should consult their own legal counsel for advice before declining rental assistance that covers all outstanding rent arrears.

What else should I know as a landlord?

  • Massachusetts Community Mediation Centers are offering free pre-court mediation between ​landlords and tenants lease disputes in addition to the summary process cases referred through the district courts. Mediation is a confidential, voluntary and non-judgmental process where a neutral third party (the mediator) helps people resolve differences based on what is important to them.
  • Here are some frequently asked questions for landlords about accepting RAFT:
    • If I am a landlord who agrees to accept funding, do I lose my right to evict the tenant? A landlord who accepts RAFT funding does not lose the ability to file for eviction due to lease violations that may occur in the future. The landlord may file for eviction under the following situations: (a) during (or after) the RAFT benefit period, if the tenant violates a lease clause that is unrelated to payment of rent; (b) during (or after) the RAFT benefit period, if the tenant does not meet the monthly rent payment obligation that is stated in the agreement; (c) after the end of the RAFT benefit period, if the tenant does not pay rent or otherwise violates the lease. 
    • Does a landlord have to agree to a proposed settlement that would involve forgiveness of arrearages or acceptance of reduced rent for the period of the agreement? Forgiveness of arrearages or acceptance of reduced rent are not program requirements. 
    • What happens if a tenant moves out of the unit before the RAFT agreement ends? The rental assistance award letter includes the following line: “If the Participant's tenancy is terminated prior to the period for which any monthly rental stipend payments were made, I agree to return the unused balance of said funds to the Agency.” The onus is on the landlord to report a move-out to the Regional Administering Agency.  

Additional Resources

You can dial 2-1-1 at any time (24 hours, 7 days a week) for additional information, other inquiries, or general support. It's free, confidential, and multilingual.

If you are struggling to pay rent or utilities:

If you can no longer afford current rent and need to move:

If you are experiencing unemployment:

If you are experiencing homelessness:

 

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