What Are My Rights?

Full Know Your Rights Resources for MA Renters

Check if Your Landlord is Up To Code

Fill out this form to find out which health and safety standards your landlord is breaking.

Federal/CDC Eviction Ban

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has ordered the suspension of physical evictions for non-payment of rent until December 31, 2020. If you meet all 5 points of criteria below, you can submit the CDC declaration form to your landlord to protect yourself from eviction and to use as a legal tool in court.

You may qualify if you:

  1. Used “best efforts” to look for government assistance for rent or housing.
  2. Meet one of these income requirements:
    • You will earn less than $99,000 this year OR if filing with a partner or household, you will earn less than $198,000.
    • You were not required to pay taxes in 2019.
    • You qualified for an income stimulus check earlier this year.
  3. Are unable to make your full rent or housing payment because of a loss of income or large medical expense.
  4. Are doing your best to make timely partial rental payments. If you haven’t already been paying your landlord, offer a partial rent payment that is affordable to you when you give your landlord the CDC notice.
  5. Would either become homeless or enter a shared living space (like living with a family member or staying at a shelter) if evicted.

How to prevent eviction using the CDC ban:

  1. Ask for help with rent!
  2. Keep paying as much rent as you can.
    • If you haven’t been paying your landlord, offer a partial rent payment that is affordable to you when you give your landlord the CDC form.
  3. Print, sign and date, then submit the CDC declaration form to your landlord or property management company (whoever you pay rent to) at:
    • cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/declaration-form.pdf
    • Tip: Is there more than one person on your lease? Make sure everyone on the lease fills out their own form.
  4. Take a picture of the signed form and then give your landlord the signed form.
    • Tip: Make sure to keep a copy of the form(s) before you give it to your landlord.

Reporting Violations

If your landlord tries to evict you or remove your belongings during the COVID-19 emergency, call the Office of Housing Stability (OHS) at 617-625-6600 ext. 2581.

If your landlord violates your rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, report the case to the Office of the MA Attorney General:

** These policies do not “cancel” rent or mortgage debt. You should pay as much of your rent or mortgage as you can. Financial help is available –see the “FREE Local Resources” section.

How Do Evictions Work?

What Can I Do?

Legal Defenses Against Eviction

Bad conditions

Do you have pests? Does the plumbing leak? Are any locks broken? Does cold air seep in through the windows? If your apartment has problems, and your landlord knows or should know about them, you are owed for the loss in value of the home. You can call the Inspectional Services Department at 617-635-5300 for more information about the sanitary code or to request an inspection.


Is your landlord trying to get rid of you because you complained, organized a tenant’s union, or other-wise exercised your rights?


Is your landlord singling you out because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, age, or another protected identity?

Interference with the quiet enjoyment of your home

Does the landlord barge into your apartment in non-emergency situations without warning you? Did they change the locks on you, or put your stuff out onto the street?