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Are new owners of my building required to honor the last month's rent I paid to the previous owner?

My girlfriend and I signed a yearlong lease with a landlord and paid him first and last month's rent (both with checks, both with the relevant information in the Memo section; we have the cleared copies, though not a proper receipt). The landlord never gave us a copy of the lease bearing his signature, despite multiple requests on our part. 4 months into the lease, he sold the building to new owners. As I understand it, without the original landlord's signature, our lease is now a tenancy-at-will, meaning so long as the new owners give at least 30 days notice, they can raise the

rent. We're OK with that.

We believe the original owner never gave the new owners a copy of the lease, nor do we think he transferred our last month's rent payment to them (new owners never notified us of the transfer of funds, which I believe they are required to do within 45 days of sale). They are treating the lease as month-to-month.

The question: we want to move. Are we justified in telling the new owners that we've already paid the last month's rent and will be applying the amount as our last "payment"? If we do this, I would imagine we need to provide them with a copy of the cleared check. Do they have the right to contest this? Or are we supposed to pay them and then sue the former owner? The MA dept. of consumer affairs website seems to indicate that the new owners are obligated to honor our previous payment, but we're not sure that they will.

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Yes, as happens with security deposits and the sale of a building, Massachusetts law places burdens on both the seller and the buyer of an apartment building to account for and credit tenants with the payment of last month's rent.  Study Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 186, Section 15B7(A), which states in relevant part: 

Whenever a lessor who receives rent in advance for the last month of tenancy transfers his interest in the dwelling unit for which the rental advance was received, whether by sale, assignment, death, appointment of a receiver or trustee in bankruptcy, or otherwise, the lessor shall credit an amount equal to such rental advance together with any interest which has accrued thereon for the benefit of the tenant who made such rental advance, to the successor in interest of such lessor, and said successor in interest shall be liable for crediting the tenant with such rental advance, and for paying all interest accrued thereon in accordance with the provisions of this section from the date upon which said transfer is made(.)

Talk to the new owner and bring a copy of the check.  Ask them to put whatever arrangement you agree to in writing.  Although a simple receipt showing you have, by virtue of the last month's rent paid to the prior owner, paid your rent for the final month, should do the trick.  Also, make sure you give proper thirty day's notice so you do not incur liability for additional rent.


You can follow this link to review Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 186, Section 15B

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