What is a Notice to Quit in Massachusetts?
This Legal Guide will explain the Notice to Quit and why it is an extremely important document.
What type of tenancy do you have?Tenant with Written Lease: (Some Leases have automatic renewals in the terms)
Tenant with a written agreement that states the agreed-upon rent and the length of the tenancy (typically 1 year, but may be shorter or longer).
Tenant at Will: (If you had a Lease without an automatic renewal and you have no signed a new lease, but continued to pay rent and the landlord accepted without objection, then you are a change from a Tenant with a written agreement to a Tenant at Will)
Tenant with a month-to-month tenancy, which may be either written or oral. The landlord or the owner of the home MUST know that you reside and you pay the landlord or the owner the rent. If you move in with a roommate and pay that roommate, you are not a Tenant at Will and would be "tied at the hip" with the roommate. Also, can happen if you are subleasing without the landlord or owner's knowledge or permission.
Tenant at Sufferance: (after a proper termination of tenancy or when a lease expires)
Tenant who stays in an apartment after their tenancy has ended without permission from the landlord.
Tenant by Regulation:
A tenant in public or subsidized housing who has additional tenant protections beyond those described here.
What is a Notice to Quit?A Notice to Quit is a notice terminating whatever rights to possession you have over the landlord or owner of the premises in question.
Typically, for Tenant with a Lease, there are specific terms and conditions regarding the Notice to Quit and what actions can be considered a breach of the lease. Some breaches require a 30 Day Notice to Quit (one full month- if served on October 15, 2016, termination will not occur until November 30, 2016 at midnight), while others (depending on the lease terms) can require only 7 or 14 Day Notice to Quit. Non-Payment of rent request a 14-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment of rent. If you continuously fail to pay your rent on time and depending on the lease terms, you could receive at Fault Notice to Quit.
If you are a Tenant at Will, your landlord or the owner of the premises can serve a no-fault 30 Day Notice to Quit (without a written document) (one full month- if served on October 15, 2016, termination will not occur until November 30, 2016 at midnight), and a 14 Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent. If you have written Tenancy at Will, please review the Tenant with a Lease paragraph for more information.
If you are a Tenant at Sufferance, a Notice to Quit is not required. Your landlord or the owner of the premises just needs to have the document that terminated your tenancy naturally.
If you are a Tenant by Regulation, you have additional rights before a Notice to Quit is served. You have the right to go before management and have a hearing on any complaints or allegations of breaches to the terms of the tenancy. Typically a Tenant by Regulation has a written lease and the terms and conditions should be explained (typically a lengthy document).
Why is a Notice to Quit important?In order for the landlord or owner of the premises to gain possession of the premises you currently reside in, they must prove they have a superior right to possession. They have to prove they properly terminated your tenancy. This is done by providing the court with a copy of the served Notice to Quit. You MUST keep a copy of the Notice to Quit that was served on you and always verify that the Notice to Quit served on you is the same document filed with the court. If it is not, then you MUST bring it up and the court will must likely dismiss the landlord or owner's case. The landlord or owner would then have to start the process over again.
The Notice to Quit could be considered an attempt to collect a debt and the FDCPA and Massachusetts Attorney General regulations would apply to the letter if it includes language seeking unpaid rent or fees. Be sure to review your rights before just agreeing to pay what is listed.
Each Notice to Quit MUST be unambiguous and clearly state the cause or reason for the termination. If it does not, the court should dismiss the landlord or owner's case and they have to start the process over again.
It is important to have an Attorney involved prior to preparing a Notice to Quit as a landlord or owner or possibly have your case dismissed at a later time.