What are my rights as a tenant at will?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What are my rights as a tenant at will?

My lease expired 07/31. I was informed by text message on 07/13 of my landlord’s intent to not renew my lease and I was given until 08/31 to vacate.

I have been searching for housing but cannot find a new rental due to the market, as well as a poor credit score. I have a family of 6, including 4 children and school starts in less than 3 weeks. My landlord claims that he wants the house for their personal use. What rights do we have?

Asked on August 13, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, when you don't have a still-in-effect (unexpired) written lease, your tenancy can be terminated on at least 30 days written notice. The notice must terminate your tenancy at th end of a month/begininng of a new month--so notice provided 7/13 when your lease expires (and no longer protects you) 7/31 will suffice to require you to leave by 8/31. If you don't leave by then, your landlord can bring an eviction action and will be able to remove you in a very few weeks. With a written lease for a definite or defined period of time, you basically can only remain there as long as the landlord wants you to, the same way that without a written lease for a set period of time, you can move out on 30 days notice without further obligation. There is no way to reliably stay past the 30 days notice without a written lease; while it's possible that the landlord will do something wrong in how they file the eviction case and will have to refile, that is just a temporary delay until they get the paperwork right. You have to plan that you need a new place in mid-late September, or early October at the earliest.

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