One of the most common issues tenants in the Boston area have is not getting their security deposit returned when they move out. The security deposit law in Massachusetts can be confusing to read and hard to follow. If you are a tenant and have not received your security deposit I can review your case and often will be able to get your deposit back.

The security deposit statute, G.L. c. 186 §15B, sets strict requirements for the handling of a tenant’s security deposit when held by the landlord. The statute also has strict requirements for keeping or returning the security deposit money after the tenant vacates the landlord’s property. Section 4 of 186 §15B requires the landlord return the deposit “within thirty days after termination of occupancy” and allows the landlord to only deduct for damages caused by the tenant provided the money is withheld from the deposit in strict compliance with the statute. The statute requires the landlord provide a withholding letter “sworn to by the lessor or his agent under pains and penalties of perjury, itemizing in precise detail the nature of the damage and of the repairs necessary to correct the damage, and written evidence, such as estimates, bills, invoices or receipts, indicating the actual or estimated cost thereof” also within thirty days after the tenant vacates. G.L. c. 186 §15B 4 (iii).

The statute requires that a landlord who wishes to retain any portion of the tenant’s security deposit for alleged damages must send the tenant a withholding letter that meets all three statutory requirements: 1) signed under the pains and penalties of perjury; 2) includes an itemized list of damages and written evidence, such as estimates, bills, invoices or receipts; and 3) within 30 days of after termination of occupancy.

Often landlords keep the security deposit or some portion of the deposit without sending a withholding letter, or by sending a letter that does not meat all three requirements.

Email me with your security deposit questions and read answers to some of the most common questions I receive.

If you are looking for help or advice on your security deposit please call me at 617.475.0909 or email me at


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