Massachusetts Security Deposit
Massachusetts Security Deposits

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Massachusetts Security Deposits and Last Month’s Rent: 
Last month’s rent is the pre-payment to the landlord for the last month of tenancy. A security deposit is a deposit of money to the landlord to ensure that rent will be paid and other responsibilities of the agreement will be performed. Neither may be greater than the amount of one month’s rent. If the landlord later raises the rent, they may require you to increase the amounts of both pre-payments to equal the new rent. Neither the landlord nor you can transfer one for the use of the other without the other party’s consent.

Receipts: Upon receiving the last month’s rent or a security deposit, the landlord must give you a receipt for each pre-payment. If the landlord collects the last month’s rent, they must give you a statement indicating that you are entitled to interest on this rent and that you should provide the landlord with a forwarding address at the termination of tenancy where interest can be sent.

Interest: The Massachusetts landlord must pay interest on both the security deposit and the last month’s rent. 

Security deposit: you are entitled to either 5%  (subject to change) interest or whatever lesser amount received from the bank where the deposit has been held, if you live in the apartment for at least one year. The law requires the landlord to hold a security deposit in a separate, interest bearing account in a Massachusetts bank. Within 30 days of receiving your deposit, the landlord must give you a receipt identifying the bank’s name and address, the account number, and the amount of the deposit.

Last month’s rent: you are entitled to either 5% interest or whatever lesser amount received from the bank where the rent was held. You do not have to live in your apartment for one year to be eligible for the interest.

Payment of Interest: Interest is payable to you each year on the anniversary date of your tenancy. The landlord must send you a statement of the interest owed, and must either include the interest, or allow you to deduct the amount from the next rental payment. If you do not receive the interest within 30 days of the anniversary, then you may deduct the interest from the next month’s rent. Once you terminate your tenancy, any interest owed to you must be paid within 30 days of termination.

Statement of Condition: If a Massachusetts landlord or agent takes a security deposit, they must give you a signed, separate statement of the present condition of your apartment including a comprehensive list of any existing damage. The landlord or agent must provide you with this statement upon receipt of the deposit or within 10 days after the tenancy begins, whichever is later. If you do not agree with the contents of the statement, you must return a corrected copy to the landlord within 15 days after you receive the list or 15 days after you move in, whichever is later. If you fail to return the list and later sue to recover your security deposit, a court may view your failure to do so as your agreement that the list is complete and correct. If you submit a separate list of damages, the landlord must return it within 15 days of receipt with a clear written response of agreement or disagreement.

The signed statement and the original condition statement are the basis upon which future deductions for damage will be made. If the landlord does not give you a Statement of Condition, you should write your own and send a copy to the landlord or agent.

Damage Deduction for Security Deposits: The landlord must return your security deposit or balance within 30 days after the termination of tenancy. The landlord can only deduct for the following:

  • any unpaid rent which has not been withheld validly or deducted in accordance with the law;

  • any unpaid increase in real estate taxes if you were obligated to pay it under a valid tax escalator clause in your lease; and

  • a reasonable amount necessary to repair any damage caused by you, any person under your control, or any person on the premises with your consent. Pet damage can also be deducted. You do not have to pay for reasonable wear and tear associated with normal use.


If the premises are damaged, the landlord must provide you with a detailed list of damages and their necessary repairs within 30 days after the tenancy ends. The landlord or agent must swear to this list under the pains and penalties of perjury. In addition, the landlord or agent must provide you with written evidence indicating the actual or estimated cost of these repairs, such as estimates, bills, invoices, or receipts. See our Normal Wear and Tear Guide

Transfers of Pre-payments to New Landlords: Upon sale or transfer of the building, the landlord must credit the last month’s rent and security deposit with any accrued interest to the new landlord. The new landlord must give written notice of the transfer within 45 days of receiving your money. If the former landlord fails to transfer the pre-payments to the new landlord, they are liable, but the new landlord shall also be obligated to you for the amount of the pre-payments. The new landlord can satisfy this obligation by granting you free rent for a time equivalent to the payments made.

You are entitled to the immediate return of your Massachusetts security deposit if the landlord...:

  • fails to make the security deposit records available for inspection during office hours; or

  • fails to provide you, within 30 days of receipt of the security deposit, a receipt with the name and location of the bank and the amount and account number of the deposit;

  • makes deductions for damages and fails to furnish you with an itemized list of damages within 30 days after termination of tenancy; or

  • uses a lease which contain provisions conflicting with the security deposit law and attempts to enforce these provisions or attempts to get you to sign a waiver of rights.

And if the landlord fails...
  • to deposit the security deposit into a bank account;

  • to return the security deposit (or balance after lawful deductions) with interest within 30 days after termination of tenancy; or

  • to transfer the security deposit or last month’s rent to the new landlord;

You are entitled to the immediate return of your security deposit AND triple damages, plus court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees. You also are entitled to triple damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees if the landlord fails to pay interest on the last month’s rent within 30 days after termination of tenancy. Subject to the a courts determination. 

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