Massachusetts is known to be one of the more restrictive states when it comes to holding a security deposit. The Massachusetts Security Deposit Law is found at M.G.L. Chapter 186, Section 15B and the courts are not known to allow for any leniency if all of the rules have not been followed.
A landlord may not take more than one month’s rent as a security deposit. An additional security deposit above one month’s rent may not be taken for any reason. For example, there cannot be additional security deposit taken due to a pet. The landlord must deposit the security deposit in an account within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and must provide the tenant with a receipt showing the bank, the bank’s address, the account number, the amount and date of deposit of the security deposit. The landlord must also provide the tenant with a Statement of Condition. The tenant must fill this out and list all conditions with the apartment at the beginning of the tenancy.
If the landlord does not handle this procedure properly (i.e., the depositing and providing a receipt), the tenant is entitled to its return on demand. In some instances, if the landlord fails to handle the deposit properly and fails to return it, the landlord will be subject to a penalty of three times the security deposit plus the tenant’s reasonable attorney’s fees.
If a tenant stays in the apartment more than 12 months, the tenant is entitled to receive the interest that the security deposit has earned over the past year. In the alternative, a landlord can instruct the tenant to deduct the interest from the next rent check.
The landlord must return the security deposit within 30 days after the end of the tenancy. If the landlord wishes to deduct anything from the security deposit, he or she must provide the tenant with receipts or estimates for the cost of the repair and sign an accounting under the pains and penalties of perjury. If the tenant owes rent when they vacate, the security deposit can be applied to the owed rent and detailed on the signed accounting. The security deposit cannot be applied to owed rent while the tenant still remains in the apartment.
If you have questions or would like to discuss these matters, please contact Drayton Law at 508-618-7250.
This blog is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal advice. All those who read this blog should seek the advice of a professional before taking action based upon any information provided herein.