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Types of tenancies

Your legal rights as a tenant or a landlord will vary depending on the type of tenancy.

Tenant under lease

  • A lease generally means a signed agreement to rent an apartment for a specified period of time and a set monthly charge
  • Rent cannot be increased until the end of the lease, unless the lease states otherwise
  • A tenant cannot be evicted before the end of the term, unless the tenant violates some provision of the lease

Tenant at will

  • No formal lease agreement. Agreement for tenancy can be written or verbal. However, it is recommended that the agreement be written.  In the absence of a written document that provides for the tenant paying utilities, the law places that burden on the landlord, despite any verbal agreements (105 CMR 410)
  • Rent is paid periodically (typically monthly)
  • The landlord and tenant may terminate this type of agreement one full rental period in advance or after 30 days written notice, whichever is longer
  • No reason is necessary for termination of the rental agreement
  • The landlord can raise rent at any time provided they send proper legal notice terminating the tenancy and offers to allow the tenant to remain in the apartment for the increased rent

Subsidized tenancy

If the tenancy is subsidized, you may have different rights and responsibilities than those summarized in this section. Contact the agency that provided the subsidy.

Additional Resources for Subsidized tenancy


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