Security Deposits

Massachusetts security deposit law is one of the most dangerous areas for landlords to enter into, so much so that we are close to recommending that no landlord take a security deposit. This article will explain what must be in a security deposit receipt, how to make a security deposit return, and how to avoid a security deposit demand letter.

This page provides advice for dealing with the law as it stands currently. For proposed changes, see our related page:

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FAQ about Security Deposits from our Webinar

Introduction to Massachusetts Security Deposit Law

What makes the Massachusetts security deposit law so difficult? Principally, it’s two things.

First, the law calls for mandatory penalties of three times the deposit amount if certain procedures are not followed. This can eliminate the last year’s profit from the rental unit and thensome.

Second, the Massachusetts security deposit law has been used to overturn otherwise lawful evictions. In one case, a landlord’s security deposit violation resulted in a two year delay, with his case ending up losing before the Supreme Judicial Court.

To take a MA security deposit, you must:

  • Always remember that the security deposit belongs to your renters.
  • Complete all required paperwork by all required deadlines.
  • Store the deposit in an interest-bearing bank account under your tenant’s social security number.
  • Deduct only for actual damage beyond reasonable wear and tear, or unpaid rent, and only with receipts.

Massachusetts Security Deposit Receipt

Massachusetts landlords who want to take a security deposit must issue a security deposit receipt. This receipt serves two important purposes. First, it tells the renters where they can get their money if, heavens forbid, you should become incapacitated or unable to return their deposit. Second, it tells judges and tenant attorneys whether or not you are following the law.

The receipt must specify certain things. If you mess up the receipt, or don’t give one, you owe the renter three times the amount of the deposit. See the checklist to avoid triple damages.

Checklist to Avoid Security Deposit Triple Damages

Sometimes people say “triple damages,” but really the law specifies penalties in terms of the deposit amount because, frankly, these cases often don’t have any damages (i.e., the landord has not cost the tenant any real money). Landlords will owe tenants three times the deposit amount, plus 5% interest, plus attorney’s fees, plus other court costs, unless they do all of the following:

  • Put the security deposit into a bank account
    • The bank must be in Massachusetts
    • The account must earn interest
    • The account must be under the tenant’s name and social security number only, with landlord as signatory (specifically, a landlord-tenant account)
    • Note: credit unions are not banks (we are looking for the case, but it was Western Housing Court circa 2001)
  • Within 30 days of signing the rental agreement, give a receipt that lists
    • The name and location of the bank
    • The amount of the deposit
    • The account number
  • Each year,
    • Pay interest
      • Either 5% or the actual amount of interest received (if less than 5%)
      • Either cash or check or deducted from the rent
    • Give an annual statement that lists basically all the same information again
      • The name and location of the bank
      • The amount of the deposit
      • The account number
      • Plus the interest earned
  • Within 30 days of the end of tenancy (possession, not original agreement),
    • Pay all interest
    • Provide an itemized list of damages
      • This list must be signed by the landlord
      • The form must say “Signed under the pains and penalties of perjury”
      • Receipts, invoices, or photographic evidence are required for each deduction
      • No deduction can be made for damaged items identified at move-in
    • Return the original deposit plus remaining unpaid interest less damages

Any single failure of any bullet point or part of a bullet point above will entitle the tenant to receive three times the amount of the deposit. It doesn’t matter how nice of a person you are, or how hard you tried to follow the law.

The only reason you haven’t run into trouble with security deposits in the past is because you weren’t taken to court. Read that list and tell us you did everything perfectly, and you’ll be one in a thousand. If you get to court and you have a security deposit violation, odds are good the legal services folks will find it and make you pay.

  • Read the law for yourself: MGL Ch 186 Section 15B
  • When reading for triple damages, start with “(7) If the lessor or his agent fails to comply with clauses (a), (d), or (e) of subsection 6, the tenant shall be awarded damages in an amount equal to three times the amount of such security deposit” and parse it from there.

Important note: Because the attorney general has used the power of MGL Chapter 93A to make it an unfair and deceptive practice to violate any law, any other violation of the security deposit statute (even for things not listed above) may result in triple damages under 93A.

Conditions Statement

You cannot withhold from a security deposit for repairs unless you have a signed conditions statement.

The conditions statement is the only rental form whose font size is regulated by law. It must disclose all the defects in the apartment and get the tenant’s acknowledgment. The statement must be signed within 15 days of the start of tenancy. Many landlords walk through the apartment during lease-signing and fill out the conditions statement with their tenants.

Read the law to be sure you are complying. It is section 2(c).

Eviction with Security Deposit Violations

Security deposit violations are tied into a “silver bullet” that tenants get. If a landlord violates any law, an eviction can be stopped.

The case Meikle v Nurse proved this as recently as 2016.

We filed an amicus briefing for this particular case in December 2015, but our side lost.

Security Deposit Return in Massachusetts

Security deposit return in Massachusetts is tightly regulated. If you mess it up, you may be presented with a security deposit demand letter. We profiled a real life security deposit story in December 2017. In this story, the landlord tried to deduct what they thought was right, and ended up paying his renters roughly twice the deposit.

Security Deposit Return allowed only with a Conditions Statement

To deduct from a security deposit, you must first have a conditions statement from the beginning of the tenancy. If you don’t, sorry! But you cannot deduct from the security deposit no matter how badly your apartment has been trashed. Give the whole deposit back.

The conditions statement lists things that were broken on move-in. You can’t deduct for anything on this list. You can’t safely deduct for anything mentioned, even if the renters made it worse. For instance, if a door was listed because it had loose hinges, and now the door has fallen off entirely, you cannot deduct for that. The door was already presumed trash.

Reasonable Wear and Tear Gives Lots of Damage a Pass

Massachusetts security deposit law has a standard for deductions. You can only deduct for things that are beyond reasonable wear and tear. This means that a carpet stain for a renter who lived in the unit for several years might be considered normal. It’s open to litigation. Some landlords treat carpet, paint, miniblinds, and even garbage disposals as breakable consumables that they replace each vacancy.

What are examples of reasonable vs unreasonable wear and tear?

ItemWhat might be reasonable wear and tear?What's probably unreasonable and can be deducted?
CarpetWine or ink stainCut with utility knife.
DoorFell off hinges, screw holes stripped but surrounding wood intact.Hinges ripped out of wall and surrounding wood splintered.
WindowVinyl frame on 10 yo contractor grade window cracked.Glass cracked.
PlumbingSink drain clogged with grease.Sink drain clogged with cat litter.
ElectricalLightbulb missing.Ceiling fixture fell off.
WallsDented and crushed plaster where doorknob hit.Fist-shaped hole at eye level.

Deductions must have Receipts

If you have unusual damage, you may want to fix it yourself. If you do, you may not be able to deduct the value of your time for it. The Massachusetts general law talks about only hourly rate for wages, and that’s the minimum wage. You also need to prove how many hours you worked. If you purchase a new doorknob to replace one that has gone missing, save the receipt, because that will be deductible.

In general, it is far easier to effect a Massachusetts security deposit return by paying a contractor to fix what’s broken, and then using their invoice as your receipt. You must give receipts for everything.

There are strict deadlines for evaluating damage and returning the deposit. You must follow these and send the deposit back, less deductions. You must always add back interest. It doesn’t matter if the damage is more extensive than the entire value of the deposit. The interest can never be taken by the landlord.

Example of a failed attempt to comply with the Massachusetts security deposit law

This letter from Larry to Ashley (see The Ashley Story, below) was a good effort to disclose withholding and comply with the Massachusetts security deposit law. But it lacked key verbiage and cost the landlord thousands.

List of Banks Offering Security Deposit Assistance Services

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Security Deposit Case Law

Castenholz

If you return a deposit mid-tenancy because you haven’t complied with the law, you are not liable for triple damages.

See David J. Castenholzvs. Mary Caira & another 21 Mass. App. Ct. 758.

Taylor

If you return a deposit more than 30 days after the end of a tenancy but prior to the start of litigation, you are still liable for triple damages.

See John C. Taylor vs. J.P. Beaudry. 75 Mass. App. Ct. 411.

Following the Money: Security Deposits Beyond the Reach of Landlord’s Creditors, not DOR

By Peter Vickery, Esq., Legislative Affairs Counsel

Members of MassLandlords know that they have to put security deposits in a separate, interest-bearing account beyond the reach of the landlord’s creditors. But what about the tenant’s creditors, e.g. the Commonwealth? More specifically, if the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) wants to collect from a tenant for unpaid taxes or child support, can it reach into a security-deposit account? The answer is yes.

Massachusetts law allows DOR to levy bank accounts in order to enforce child-support payments (c. 119A) and taxes (c. 62C). First, the department has to issue a levy notice to the bank, which must then search its records looking for a match with the name or tax identification number on the DOR notice. If it finds a match – even if the person owing taxes or child support is listed as a joint or co-owner of the account – the bank must suspend activity for 21 days. During this period, the account owners can ask the department to review the decision.

The statutes exempt certain accounts from levy, but security deposit accounts are not among them. This may come as a surprise to some, but it is consistent with the purpose and rationale of the security deposit law, M.G.L. c. 186, §15B.

Money in a security-deposit account belongs to the tenant, not the landlord. As the Supreme Judicial Court has made clear, putting the money in a separate account means that “tenant monies are protected from potential diversion to the personal use of the landlord, earn interest for the tenant, and are kept from the reach of the landlord’s creditors.” Neihaus v. Maxwell, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 558, 561 (2002).

Landlords are, in effect, trustees of their tenants’ security deposits, holding the money in a fiduciary capacity. That is how the US Bankruptcy Court interprets the statute. In re. Bologna, 206 B.R. 628 (1997).

Because the money is the tenant’s, and it is not in one of the categories exempt from seizure, the DOR can (and sometimes does) levy it. If a landlord learns from the bank that DOR has frozen the security-deposit account, what can the landlord do? During the 21-day holding period, the landlord may ask DOR, in writing, to reconsider (a phone call is not sufficient). After that, if DOR has already taken the money, landlords may challenge the levy as wrongful and apply for a refund.

In the event that a landlord only learns about the levy after the event, e.g. when trying to lawfully use the security to pay for repairs after the tenancy has terminated, but the bank refuses to disclose the reason for the zero balance, a landlord could seek equitable relief and judicial review. Specifically, the landlord could ask a court to compel the bank to explain what happened, and then ask the court to review the DOR decision.

Can I put a Security Deposit in a Credit Union?

The credit unions vehemently argue “yes,” but the literal wording of the law requires a “bank.” Banks and credit unions are legally not the same. “Credit unions” are not chartered the same way as banks, and have a different governance structure and insurance. Arguably if the legislature had intended for credit unions to be valid holders of security deposits, it would have written “secure depository,” “financial institution,” or similar.

We have never heard of this being litigated or brought up in court.

Can I get a Security Bump?

It’s common practice with long-term tenancies for rents to increase, and for landlords to ask for additional money to add to the existing security deposit. For instance, consider an apartment renting at $1,500/mo where after two years the rent has increased to $1,600. The landlord may wish to get an additional $100 to bring the existing security deposit from $1,500 to $1,600. This is not allowed.

MGL Chapter 186 Section 15B reads:

(d) No lessor or successor in interest shall at any time subsequent to the commencement of a tenancy demand … a security deposit in excess of the amount allowed by this section. The payment in advance for occupancy pursuant to this section shall be binding upon all successors in interest.

The amount authorized in this section of the law is:

(iii) a security deposit equal to the first month’s rent

We recognize that standard business practice may include security bumps, but we have to teach the conservative interpretation, which is that the statute bars payments in excess of the value of the first month’s rent, however long ago that may have been.

If you wish to collect a larger security deposit, terminate the old tenancy and sign a new tenancy with all new paperwork at the higher rent.

What if my Renter Doesn’t have a Social Security Number?

Visa holders and others may not have a social security number and yet may still be both qualified for your housing and here legally.

Instead of form W-9, which is typically how a renter would provide their social, a bank should also accept W-8BEN, to create a landlord-tenant account with your renter as beneficiary. This form requires the renter to assert that they have not yet been able to get a social security number. If your bank cannot do this, find a different bank.

Alternatives to taking a Security Deposit

If you are disheartened by the legal exposure that comes with taking a security deposit, you might want to consider an alternative.

Some insurers or state subsidies offer a guarantee or an insurance policy for unpaid rent, property damage, and attorneys fees for certain renters in certain conditions. Generally, if this is offered in lieu of a security deposit, take it.

Renters who damage your unit are still liable for the damage. If they do not receive public assistance, you may file in Housing Court Small Claims for the balance owed.

You can raise the rent proportional to the amount you would have withheld from a security deposit. For instance, if your average tenancy is 18 months, and your average renter loses their entire deposit, you would increase the rent by 1/18th, or 5.6%, and come out even, on average.

Massachusetts Security Deposit Law Conclusion

So how much “security” does a deposit really provide? If you’re a tenant, you should positively want one. If you’re a landlord, think carefully. Only take a security deposit if you’re sure you can meet all the paperwork requirements.

Past Presentations

Presentation: How to Take a Security Deposit

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Webinar: Security Deposits 101

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FAQ about Security Deposits from our Webinar

Think you’re withholding a security deposit for this? Only if you have a condition statement.

Can I deduct for my time to repair an apartment? What about my employee’s time?

MGL Chapter 186, Section 15b reads, “The lessor may deduct from such security deposit for the following:

‘a reasonable amount necessary to repair any damage caused to the dwelling unit by the tenant or any person under the tenant’s control or on the premises with the tenant’s consent, reasonable wear and tear excluded. In the case of such damage, the lessor shall provide to the tenant within such thirty days an itemized list of damages, 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 such damage, and written evidence, such as estimates, bills, invoices or receipts, indicating the actual or estimated cost thereof.’”

The law specifically contemplates that the amount withheld may imprecisely correspond to the actual cost, such as a contractor estimate (with the actual amount not yet paid out) or an “estimated cost,” perhaps including a landlord’s own time. Two caveats:

First, note the requirement to provide “precise detail.” You would need to show a timecard or other log, and would likely be expected to exclude the time to get to the property. You might also be asked to provide documentation showing that you or your employee were the most appropriate person to repair the damage. Billing eight hours of watching YouTube to learn how to perform basic carpentry would likely not be found reasonable.

Second, note that the law does not specify a landlord’s wage. We have heard anecdotally that the only wage specified in the law is the minimum wage. It is unclear if a wage specified in the rental agreement would be upheld.

We teach that most landlords across the state will find their only certain path to withholding in hiring a third-party contractor who produces an unbiased third-party receipt or invoice for actual costs.

Can I keep the last month’s rent in the same tenant/landlord account as the security deposit?

No, keep them separate. The security deposit is the renter’s money. The last month’s rent is yours.

The tenant has 15 days to return the Apartment Condition Statement. If they do not return the statement, then would the landlord consider everything to be fine when the tenant moved in?

Everything will be as written in the signed statement of condition. Don’t leave room for doubt. It’s best to say, “Nothing is broken, everything is in perfect shape.”

How do I separate interest from year to year when I’ve kept the security deposit in the same account for a tenant who has been there for many years?

You should withdraw interest in order to pay it out each year. If you haven’t paid out all accrued interest, pay it all out now, including any effect from compounding.

You can transfer interest from the security deposit account to your business checking account for the purpose of making a payment.

How do you deal with an old security deposit to make it compliant?

An attorney would advise you to return the deposit and start over. An experienced landlord may wish to establish compliance going forward, and only return the deposit if any issues arise. A good-faith error should not eliminate the moral expectation that your apartment be returned in the same condition it was rented.

If your renters are renewing, you can create an entirely new tenancy. Return the old deposit and take a new one under fully compliant terms.

I’m fully compliant and my tenant’s lease is renewing. Do I have to return the deposit?

We have never seen it raised as an issue that a deposit from an ongoing tenancy was not returned. The best practice is to keep it in the original compliant account.

Are you allowed to charge a tenant for any bank fees that are required to maintain the escrow account?

No.

If three roommates want to split the security deposit and each pay a third of it, how would that work? Would you have to open up three separate accounts, or can only one person be tied to the security deposit?

The law does not specify, and we are not aware any of case law. The most important thing is to hold the deposit away from your creditors and return the deposit in timely fashion. So, if the roommates have signed jointly and severally, you can probably put it under just one tenant’s social security number. Just be sure to return it and collect a new deposit if that individual rotates out of the unit. Whoever gets the interest will get the tax statement.

Although tedious, it would be better to keep any money received from different individuals in different accounts under their respective social security numbers.

How do large companies that manage 100-plus units tend to structure their security deposit and last month’s rent? Do they have 200 different security deposit and last month’s rent accounts to keep all the funds separate, or is there a way to overlap and mitigate the number of accounts to track?

Large companies use what are called deposit escrow subaccounts, such as what is offered by Avidia Bank in Hudson and others (DESA). This creates the correct ownership structure while still permitting online access and instant account setup.
The last month’s rent is yours; you can keep that wherever you want.

Regarding the amount of the security deposit being the amount of the first month’s rent — does that mean that if the rent is raised in the following years, the security deposit should stay at the original amount and cannot ever be increased?

Yes. We recognize that it is common practice to increase the amount of the deposit as rent increases over time. The only way to effect this is to end the first tenancy and collect a new security deposit under a new tenancy.

What if the tenant refuses to give you a W-9 and you can’t open the account? What if they have no social security number?

If you do not collect social security numbers as part of your normal application process, do not collect a security deposit. If you collect social security numbers as part of your normal process, and the potential tenant declines to provide you with their number, you may decline to pursue their rental application.

There is one exception: International students and a limited number of others will not have a social security number for legitimate reasons. You should not decline to pursue these applications, as it may open you to claims of discrimination on the basis of national origin. You can still take a security deposit. Have the applicant complete form W-8BEN. A good bank will be able to open a security deposit account for you as if they had received a W-9. Applicants who decline to provide a social security number they have may not complete a W-8BEN. The form only works for individuals who are not eligible for social security numbers.

If you do everything properly, but do not send the annual statement, what is the penalty?

The penalty is three times the amount of the deposit, plus attorney’s fees.

If my tenant stays for a second year at my property, should I pay them the interest after their first year, or at the end of their second year of tenancy?

Pay interest at the end of each year of tenancy. In this scenario, you will pay interest twice.

If interest is only 3–5 cents, can we just explain on the phone that we’re keeping it and see if that works? It doesn’t make sense to pay 3–5 cents of interest every year if a tenant renews for 2-plus years.

The law does not make sense; the approach described would not be legally compliant, and you would be exposed to triple damages plus attorney’s fees if your tenant took you to court. Pay the interest each year.

May the landlord have the tenant sign a document allowing the interest to remain in the account until the end of tenancy? What if the tenant wants to, and insists?

No, a renter cannot sign away their rights under any statute. MGL Ch 186, Section 15b specifically says the following: “Any provision of a lease which conflicts with any provision of this section and any waiver by a tenant or prospective tenant of any provision of this section shall be deemed to be against public policy and therefore void and unenforceable.”

Are there any penalties if you do not provide tenants a recap of their deposit interest after a year?

Yes, the penalties are triple damages, plus attorney’s fees.

Is there a form Security Deposit Receipt letter in the MassLandlords library that we can print out?

Yes, there are five security deposit forms: One for when you first take the money, a second for when you put it in a compliant bank, a third for the conditions statement, a fourth for the annual statement and a fifth example withholding letter. These forms are all members-only content.

What happens in the event that the tenant does not provide a forwarding address post-tenancy?

The best practice recommended by one judge is to put the deposit in the form of a cashier’s check or other guaranteed form, mail the check to last and usual address (to your apartment), and hope mail forwarding catches it. If not, pick the envelope out of the unit’s mailbox and save it, unopened, for many years (there is no timeframe or case law that we know of saying how long is adequate).

Is there a statute of limitations? If you must hold records for 2 years, does that mean that a tenant only has 2 years to pursue a landlord in court? If not, then how long does a tenant have to sue a landlord for security deposit violations?

The limitation period for claims arising under MGL Ch 93A is four (4) years. Because the Attorney General’s regulations make it a violation of Ch 93A to violate any provision of the security deposit statute, landlords should work on the assumption that the tenant has at least 4 years to bring a claim.

For the 30-day timeline that the landlord has to return the balance of the security deposit and/or itemization of damages, does the landlord just have to prove that the security deposit was dispatched to the tenant (mailed, faxed, etc.) within 30 days (proof of service), or must it actually be received by the tenant by the end of that 30 days?

The law says, “The lessor shall, within thirty days after the termination of occupancy under a tenancy-at-will or the end of the tenancy as specified in a valid written lease agreement, return to the tenant the security deposit or any balance thereof; provided, however, that the lessor may deduct from such security deposit”. The statute is not clear, but the context from other situations (especially where no forwarding address is given) is that the landlord must make a provable effort to return it, but does not need to prove receipt.

Suppose a Statement of Condition were signed by a landlord and tenant as part of a signed lease that might not have the tenant take occupancy for several months. Should the landlord re-execute a Statement of Condition with the same tenants when the tenant actually moves in (or within 15 days), thus voiding the first signed Statement of Condition that was signed by landlord and tenant a few months before?

In this scenario, do not issue the Conditions Statement when you take the deposit. The law reads, “Any lessor of residential real property, or his agent, who accepts a security deposit from a tenant or prospective tenant shall, upon receipt of such security deposit, or within ten days after commencement of the tenancy, whichever is later, furnish to such tenant or prospective tenant a separate written statement of the present condition of the premises to be leased or rented.”
Issue the conditions statement on the later date only.

I messed up and I want to return my deposit before the start of litigation. How is “the start of litigation” defined, so that we can return the security deposit before triple damages triggers? For example, does filing the summary process qualify as the start of litigation?

Speak with an attorney. Best practice: Return it before you take any legal action, or upon first receipt of any legally significant notice.

I own a small apartment building (12 units) and it’s in a trust. Can you put the security deposit in an escrow account for the trust, or does it have to be under each individual tenant’s name/social security number?

The law reads, “Any security deposit received by such lessor shall be held in a separate, interest-bearing account in a bank, located within the commonwealth under such terms as will place such deposit beyond the claim of creditors of the lessor, including a foreclosing mortgagee or trustee in bankruptcy, and as will provide for its transfer to a subsequent owner of said property.”

If the trust account meets all of these criteria (which it may, if it is irrevocable), then it would seem to comply. Check with an attorney if you are not sure.

Are these regulations for commercial properties?

No, these regulations apply to residential rental units only.

Do you have to pay interest on the last month’s rent?

Sometimes. The statute reads, “Any lessor or his agent who receives said rent in advance for the last month of tenancy shall, beginning with the first day of tenancy, pay interest at the rate of five per cent per year or other such lesser amount of interest as has been received from the bank where the deposit has been held.” So, if you put the money in an interest earning account, you need to pay that interest or 5%, whichever is less.

The case Gallo v Marinelli established that there is no requirement to place the money in an interest-bearing account, and that the last month’s rent is the landlord’s money (in principle). If no interest is received by the bank, then none is owed.

What if an annual interest payment is sent to a tenant but they do not deposit the check? We have proof of payment sent.

Keep records. Best practice is to pay cash, or use an electronic debit system under the landlord’s control, to debit rent less interest.

If you have open security deposits but have not paid annual interest, how does a landlord get baselined? Should they send all tenants accrued interest along with a statement? What about just returning the entire deposit, plus accrued interest? Would that remove any risk?

The only legally complete way to baseline is to return the original deposit and sign a new rental agreement to collect a new deposit. The business decision to be made is whether you have litigation risk. If your renters are happy and likely to remain so, then pay all interest now, start using correct accounts and statements going forward, and be prepared to return the deposit upon request.

Can the tenant unilaterally withdraw funds from the security deposit acct?

If properly configured by the bank, no. In the event of your incapacity or death, the renter would need to present that evidence to the court for an order to take to the bank to get their deposit back.

I have tenants that just moved in and paid a half security deposit. We were going to collect the remaining half over the course of our rental agreement. Is that allowed?

Yes, just make sure it is in the rental agreement.

What does “treble damages mean” does that mean “triple damages”?

Yes, as used in the webinar and on this site, “treble damages” means three times the amount of the deposit.

Is a national bank like Bank of America acceptable for security deposits?

This is gray area. It’s better to pick a bank chartered locally in Massachusetts.

How do you get the unpaid rent if you can’t take it from the security deposit?

You can. A security deposit can be used to pay unpaid rent, unpaid water bills, unpaid tax escalation and property damage, provided the rent was not lawfully withheld (e.g., claiming uninhabitable conditions). Do not withhold from the deposit until after the tenancy has ended.

Video: Are Security Deposits History?

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Video: Forms Review

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MassLandlords is a nonprofit dedicated to helping owners rent their property. Presenters are not necessarily vetted by MassLandlords. Although we try to offer the best possible advice, we recommend you consult an attorney or tax accountant before you alter your business processes.

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