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Boston Security Deposit Lawyer – Landlord-Tenant Laws

When a tenant enters into a lease with a landlord, the landlord often requires the tenant to pay a sum of money known as a security deposit. The security deposit is money held by the landlord in trust that the landlord can use to cover the costs of repairing unreasonable damages the tenant caused to rental property.

The state of Massachusetts has enacted strict laws governing how security deposits must be handled and safeguarded in a landlord-tenant relationship. Section 15B of Chapter 186 of the General Laws of Massachusetts is the general law that applies to security deposits in residential rentals. In addition to this law, Massachusetts Regulation 940 CMR 3.17 also addresses security deposits in landlord-tenant situations.

The Massachusetts laws and regulations set forth strict processes and procedures that must be followed when a landlord requires a tenant to provide a security deposit. These rules are confusing and the legal consequences for failing to comply with the law can be severe. For example, if you are landlord who is not following the security deposit laws, your tenant can file a legal suit against you. If a court finds that you have violated the law, you may be required to return the deposit immediately or potentially pay the tenant three times the amount of the original security deposit along with interest and attorney’s fees. If you have questions, it is best to consult an experienced Boston lawyer who can fully explain how to properly collect, hold and return a security deposit.

General Requirements for Security Deposits

In Massachusetts, landlords are generally permitted to request a security deposit that is no more than one month’s rent. When a landlord collects a security deposit he or she is required to provide a written receipt of the security deposit to the tenant. The landlord must also provide the tenant with specific information about the bank account in which the deposit is being held, including the name and address of the bank, the amount of the money deposited into the account and the account number.

It is important to understand that in Massachusetts the security deposit remains the property of the tenant and the landlord is holding the deposit in escrow or trust. The landlord must keep the tenant’s security deposit in a separate, interest-bearing account that is clearly identified as an account not belonging to the landlord.

When a tenant moves out of the property, the landlord must return the deposit plus any accrued interest to the tenant within 30 days. If the tenant has caused any damage to the rental property, the landlord is permitted to deduct the cost of repairs from the security deposit but he or she must provide a written explanation of the damages to the tenant, including documents to support the deduction.

A Landlord-Tenant Lawyer Can Help

The laws dealing with security deposits can be challenging to sort through and navigate on your own. If you are a landlord or tenant with questions about the collection, holding or return of a security deposit, you should discuss your situation with a Boston landlord-tenant lawyer. Shaun A. Hannafin is a Boston-area attorney who focuses his legal practice on resolving landlord-tenant disputes. You can schedule a free initial consultation with Attorney Hannafin today by calling The Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannafin at (617)-848-4572.


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