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Massachussetts Landlord Tenant LawWhat is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit?
The security deposit cannot exceed more than one months' worth of rent.

What are there requirements for security deposits or any other pre-paid deposits?
A landlord can only require a tenant to pay for the following items upon moving in:

  • first month's rent
  • last month's rent
  • a security deposit of no more than one month's rent
  • the cost of buying and installing a new lock

If the landlord requires a security deposit, then the tenant must be given a written statement of condition within 10 days of receiving the money. This statement must list all damages that exist in the apartment and in all common areas prior to the tenant moving in. Once the tenant receives the statement, the tenant has 15 days to either agree with the conditions, or personally prepare a list of damages.

The landlord must hold the deposit in an interest-bearing Massachusetts bank separate from his or her personal funds; provide a receipt to the tenant within 30 days of receiving the deposit, identify the bank, address, account number, the amount of the deposit held; and pay 5% interest or any lesser amount of interest actually received from the bank (if the tenant resides on the premises for at least 1 year). The landlord is also required to pay interest on the last month’s rent when collected upon moving in.

More information may be found at: www.mass.gov/legis/laws

Upon termination of a Massachusetts lease, the landlord must return the security deposit or the balance within 30 days of the tenant vacating the property. The Massachusetts Security Deposit Law is very complex. A Landlord should consult with an attorney before taking a deposit or making deductions to insure compliance with the law.

Is my rental unit required by the state to include appliances?
Massachusetts regulations require landlords to supply cooking appliances (range and oven).

My tenant has not paid rent; how much notice do I have to give a tenant in order to evict them?
Before a Summons and Complaint for eviction can be filed, a 14 day notice is required for non payment of rent. The day of posting does not count, nor does any day in which the court is not open such as holidays or weekends. After the 14 day notice is served, then a court proceeding can be initiated.

How long does the eviction process take?
As with any legal matter, exact timing is almost impossible as it depends on many factors. Overall, with no complications, the eviction process usually takes approximately 4-5 weeks.

How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Often times it’s best to look for the obvious, such as utilities being shut off or removal of personal goods, whether or not the tenant has come back to the premises at any time during a one week period, and simply no food in the refrigerator. It’s extremely important to document all of the “proof” gathered in order to determine abandonment. When in doubt, if payment of rent has not been made, the landlord may always file for eviction.

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the Lease.

Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
The landlord shall have the right to enter the leased premises at reasonable times and hours, after reasonable notice has been given to the tenant, unless in cases of emergency. 24 hours notice can be sufficient notice in most circumstances.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

For more information, view our Massachusetts rental resources page, or pose legal questions in our State Law Forum.


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