General Laws

Section 24. (a) A tenant or co-tenant may terminate a rental agreement or tenancy and quit the premises upon written notification to the owner that a member of the household is a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking, if such notification is made within 3 months of the most recent act of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking; or if a member of a tenant’s household is reasonably in fear of imminent serious physical harm from domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking. An owner shall have the right to request proof of the status as a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking, including the name of the perpetrator, if known, as provided in subsection (e).

(b) Within 3 months of written notification to the owner to terminate a rental agreement or tenancy under subsection (a), a tenant, co-tenant or any household member who is not the perpetrator of the domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking shall quit the premises. If the tenant or co-tenant fails to quit the premises within 3 months, the notice to terminate the rental agreement or tenancy shall be void.

(c) A tenant or co-tenant to whom this section applies shall be discharged from liability for rent or use and occupancy for 30 days or 1 full rental period after the quitting date, whichever last occurs, to the extent that a rental agreement and applicable law may otherwise impose such liability beyond the quitting date. Such tenant or co-tenant shall be entitled to a refund of any prepaid rent for any period thereafter. The tenant or co-tenant shall receive a full and specific statement of the basis for retaining any of the security deposit together with any refund due in compliance with section 15B within 30 days of the conclusion of the tenancy and the delivery of full possession of the leased premises by all occupants to the landlord.

(d) No other tenant or co-tenant who is a party to the rental agreement shall be released from such tenant’s or co-tenant’s obligations under the rental agreement or other obligations under this chapter. If the tenant or co-tenant to whom this section applies vacates but leaves belongings, such belongings shall be deemed abandoned and may be disposed of under applicable law, unless the tenant or co-tenant indicates in writing the responsibility for such belongings and the action to be taken with respect to such belongings. If the tenant or co-tenant to whom this section applies vacates, but another person remains in the premises other than another tenant or co-tenant, nothing in this section shall affect the owner’s rights and obligations with regard to such remaining person. A landlord who in good faith initiates an action against a remaining tenant, co-tenant or household member, or a housing subsidy provider who terminates or denies a rental subsidy to a remaining tenant, co-tenant or household member, or takes any other action under this section, shall not be subject to a claim of retaliation or any other claim under this chapter.

(e) If relief is sought because of recent or ongoing domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking, an owner may request that proof be provided to show that a protective order or third-party verification is in effect or was obtained within the prior 3 months, or a tenant or co-tenant is reasonably in fear of imminent serious physical harm. Proof of status as a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking shall be satisfied by production of any 1 of the following documents:

(1) a copy of a valid protection order under chapter 209A or 258E obtained by the tenant, co-tenant or member of the household;

(2) a record from a federal, state or local court or law enforcement of an act of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking and the name of the perpetrator if known; or

(3) a written verification from any other qualified third party to whom the tenant, co-tenant or member of the tenant or co-tenant’s household reported the domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking; provided, however, that the verification shall include the name of the organization, agency, clinic or professional service provider and include the date of the domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking, and the name of the perpetrator if known; and provided, further, that any adult victim who has the capacity to do so shall provide a statement, under the penalty of perjury, that the incident described in such verification is true and correct.

(f) An owner or housing subsidy provider who obtains written proof of status as a victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking shall keep such documentation and the information contained in the documentation confidential, and shall not provide or allow access to such documentation in any way to any other person or agency, unless the victim provides written authorization for the release of such information or unless required by court order, government regulation or governmental audit requirements.