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The Massachusetts Security Deposit Law is one of the most tenant-friendly statutes in the United States.  Many lawyers advise their landlord clients not to take security deposits because staying in compliance with the statute is not easy.  Further, a violation of the statute may award tenants three times their deposit plus attorney fees.

Key Issues to Keep In mind:

  • The security deposit cannot exceed the amount of the first month’s rent.
  • The receipt for the security deposit must include the following information:
  1. The amount of the deposit and what it is for;
  2. The name of the person receiving it (if an agent receives, then also the name of the landlord or owner);
  3. The date on which it was received; and
  4. A description of the premises.
  5. Signed by the owner or the owner’s authorized agent.
    • A landlord MUST keep the tenant’s security deposit in an interests bearing account.
    • Within 30 days of receiving the security deposit the landlord must provide the account number, name and address of the bank holding the funds.
    • At either the time of receiving or within ten days after the tenancy begins, give the tenant a “Statement of Condition,” signed by the landlord,
    • The landlord must give the tenant an annual statement about the interests earned on said account.
    • Within thirty days of the termination of the tenancy, the landlord must either return the deposit in full or, if any monies are being kept by the landlord, a statement must be sent to the tenant, including a complete, itemized list of deductions.
    • The landlord must sign this statement under the pains and penalties of perjury.

If the landlord fails to comply with any part of the law, the statute states that a penalty may be imposed, ranging from the return of the security deposit to treble damages and attorney fees. If you are a tenant or a landlord and have questions about the Massachusetts Security deposit law, get in contact today


Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Author Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday practices law in Cambridge and Martha's Vineyard Massachusetts. He works in the areas of Real Estate, Personal Injury, and Consumer Protection Law. When not practicing law, Arthur enjoys sailing, hanging out with friends on the beach, and waking his dog "Ridiculous."

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