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Can I break my lease in MA in a hardship situation?

I signed a 1 yr lease, putting down first and last months rent back in September. I was laid off in December, and continued to pay rent with the severance I received while I looked for work. I accepted a position in CT this week, and thus had to relocate. My landlord expects me to pay rent until the apartment finds a new tenant, I realize I'm under a contract, but is there an exception for this if I needed to relocate for a job?

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No, MA law does not allow you to break your lease in hardship situations.  You are bound by the terms of the contract you signed and may still be responsible for rent until the end of the term.  However, Massachusetts law obligates your landlord to make reasonable efforts to rent the apartment to someone else and, thus, eliminate or reduce your liability for the rent owed for the remaining term of the lease.  If you find a suitable person to assume the lease, and the landlord refuses, you may not be liable for the entire term of the lease. Additionally, if you ‘break the lease’ and the landlord does not take reasonable steps to fill the vacancy, you may not be liable for the full term of the lease.
 
There are a few situations in which a tenant is allowed to terminate a lease, including:
 
(1) Military Service. Under the War and National Defense Service member's Civil Relief Act (50 App. U.S.C.A. §§ 501) if you are a member of the "uniformed services,” (not just the military, but also corps of the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, or an active National Guard member), if you are required by that service to move, you can give your landlord written notice of your intent to terminate your tenancy. Once the notice is delivered to the landlord, the tenant's lease will end 30 days after the next rent payment day.
(2) Constructive Eviction. In cases where the landlord fails to make repairs and correct major problems. However, tenants must follow procedures outlined in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 111, § 127L and in chapter 239, §8A.
(3) Domestic Violence. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 186 § 24, tenants who have met certain conditions and who are victims of (or reasonably fear) domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or stalking can terminate their lease.
 
One final note: Just because you think your landlord is not acting reasonably (in accepting a person you find to take over the lease) does not mean a court will agree with you. A landlord is not obligated to rent to the person you nominate to assume your lease. The landlord may have valid reasons for not renting to that person, such as a poor credit history or bad references from former landlords. In short, breaking a lease is risky business.



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