I get several emails a week asking questions about the security deposit law in Massachusetts, often from college and university students in the Boston area who are new to being tenants and dealing with landlords. A security deposit is the tenant’s money and remains the tenant’s money until there is some legal reason for the landlord to take it, and even then the landlord needs to follow the strict requirements of the security deposit law. If you have a question please email or call me. 617.475.0909 ed@edricelaw.com

How long does it take to get my security deposit back?

One of the most common questions I get is “How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit?” Under the security deposit law in Massachusetts a landlord has 30 days to either return the security deposit or send you a withholding letter explaining what damages they are keeping the security deposit to cover. The landlord would need to follow all steps in the security deposit law in order to keep your deposit, even if you got a letter the landlord might not have done the withholding letter correctly and you could still get all of your deposit back.

Is it legal to ask for first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit in Massachusetts?
Yes, the security deposit and last month,s rent law allows the landlord to ask a tenant for both a security deposit and a last month’s rent. The landlord still has to follow all of the steps in the law to protect your security deposit and to pay you interest on the last month’s rent if you stay longer than a year. The landlord should not be charging you a pet fee, amenity fee, move in fees, or any other fees before you move in or at the start of your tenancy. The landlord can only charge a tenant for first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a security deposit and the actual cost to change the lock.

Do I need to send a demand letter to get my security deposit back?
No you do not need to, but sometimes you may want to. If you have moved out you need to provide the landlord with an address where they can send you the deposit. Also it can be faster sometimes to send a demand letter if the the landlord returns your deposit with out going to court.

You can also find more information on litigation and security deposits here. Or on the State’s security deposit page or free legal help on the security deposit and other tenants rights.