TENANT RIGHTS SECURITY DEPOSITS
Massachusetts Security Deposit Law G.L.c. 186 §15B is Strictly Enforced to Protect Tenants
A landlord can only accept and retain a tenant’s security deposit if it precisely follows Massachusetts law. When the requirements of the law are not followed, the landlord must forfeit the entire security deposit, even if the renters still live in the rental property. When a landlord is obligated to surrender the security deposit, but doesn’t, it becomes liable for triple the amount of the security deposit being held, plus attorney’s fees. If you think your landlord has not followed the Massachusetts security deposit law, G.L.c. 186 § 15B, contact Attorney Gary Allen for advice.
OUR OFFICE DOES NOT CHARGE AN HOURLY RATE TO A TENANT FOR A SECURITY DEPOSIT MATTER. THE TENANT PAYS ONLY THE COURT AND SERVICE FEES, AND THEN PAYS THE ATTORNEY A CONTINGENCY FEE WHEN THE CASE IS RESOLVED.
These are your Landlord’s Most Important Obligations:
- The landlord may not accept more than one month’s rent for the security deposit. Overall, the landlord may not accept more money than the first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposit and the cost of purchase and installation for a key and lock at the beginning of the tenancy.
- The landlord must give you a receipt at the time you furnish a security deposit, stating how much was received, who received the money, the name of the landlord (if different than the person who receives the money) and the address of the property for which the security deposit is being held. Not a day later, not a week later. Never give a landlord cash unless you get a receipt.
- Within thirty days of receiving a security deposit, the landlord must give you an additional receipt telling you the name and address of the bank and account number where your security deposit is being held.
- The landlord must put your security deposit in an interest-bearing account and pay annual interest on it. It must pay 5%, or whatever lesser rate is paid by the bank where the security deposit is held, on each anniversary of your tenancy, or offer you a rent credit in the same amount as the interest.
- When you vacate, the landlord must return your security deposit within thirty days unless it withholds money as provided for in the law.
- The landlord can only withhold your security deposit for unpaid rent or to repair any damage caused by you during your tenancy. Nothing else.
- If the landlord withholds money to repair damage, it must give you a withholding statement within thirty days of vacating, which itemizes the specific damage, and provide cost estimates, repair bills or other documentation of exactly what work was done.
- The withholding statement must be signed under the pains and penalties of perjury. This is not a small detail. If the landlord does not include the perjury statement, it is obligated to forfeit your entire security deposit, and if it fails to forfeit, you may be able to recover triple damages and attorney’s fees if the landlord has violated the consumer protection law.
If your landlord didn’t meet its obligations outlined in this article, contact Attorney Gary Allen for an explanation of your rights and and an assessment as to whether the landlord violated the Massachusetts security deposit law. A landlord’s failure to carefully follow the law can result in triple damages for you, plus the landlord may be ordered to pay your attorney’s fees.
The Law Office of Gary Allen is located in Quincy, MA and Attorney Allen regularly appears in courts across eastern Massachusetts.
LAW OFFICE OF GARY ALLEN
P.O. BOX 690213
QUINCY, MA 02269