Want to share what you like about MassLegalHelp with us?


What If the Landlord Backs Out

Produced by Patty Whiting
Reviewed May 2017

Sometimes a landlord will promise an apartment to a tenant and then try to back out of the deal. If a landlord refuses to let you move in after she has taken money from you or has signed an agreement saying she will rent the apartment to you, the landlord may not be able to back out of the deal.

If you want the apartment and you and the landlord cannot negotiate your moving in, you can go to court and tell a judge what has happened. Before you do this, tell the landlord that you plan to go to court. The landlord may then decide to give you the apartment. If you go to court, there is a very good chance that the judge will order the landlord to let you move into that apartment.45

If you feel that a landlord may be discriminating because of your race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, physical or mental disability, source of income, marital status, familial status, or status as a veteran, there are steps that you can take to protect your rights. For more information, see Chapter 7: Discrimination.


45 . The Hampden County Housing Court has ruled that a landlord is contractually bound to rent an apartment for which she has signed a subsidy "Request for Lease Approval." Blanks v. Gray, Hampden Housing Court, LE-3001-S-87, p 5. (Abrashkin, J., April 4, 1988). That court has also ruled that someone who has been wrongfully denied an apartment after a contract to rent has been formed can sue the landlord under one of the "anti-lockout" statutes, G.L. c. 186, §15F. Delgado v. Stefanik, 89-LE-3532-H, p. 11 (Abrashkin, J., November 1, 1989).

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am - 12pm and 1pm - 4pm