Security Deposit Laws in Massachusetts
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 05, 2019
Whether you're interested in a fully furnished Southie studio in Boston or a dreamy vacation spot in Salem, if you rent property in Massachusetts, you'll likely have to pay a security deposit. A security deposit is a sum of money (usually one-months' rent) separate from the advance rent payments that a new resident gives to the landlord.
If you're the tenant, you should think of it as saving you money later if you damage the property or skip out on the lease. Obviously, you want all (or most of it) back when your move out, but the landlord can keep some or all of it for unpaid rent or damages beyond normal wear and tear. The purpose of the security deposit from the landlord's perspective is that it lessens the financial hit to them if the tenant breaks the lease and leaves early.
Synopsis of Security Deposit Laws in Massachusetts
The laws on security deposits vary, depending on where the rental property is located. There may be specific rules for your county and city, so be sure to check out the relevant local laws. For a plain language synopsis of statewide laws, see the chart below.
Massachusetts General Laws Part II. Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations Ch. 186, Section 15B
Statutory Limits for Security Deposit
Under Massachusetts law, a landlord is only allowed to charge a tenant the equivalent of one-month of rent for a security deposit.
Massachusetts Security Deposit Laws: Landlord Duties
Mandatory Disclosure to Tenant
When the landlord first receives the security deposit, they must provide the tenant with the following information:
Within 30 days of receiving the security deposit, the landlord must disclose the following information about the security deposit:
Security Deposit Interest
Deadline for the Return of the Security Deposit
A landlord is required to return a tenant's security deposit (less any deductions) within 30 days after the tenant has surrendered the property by returning the keys and vacating/leaving the property.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Security Deposit Laws in Massachusetts: Related Resources
- Security Deposit FAQ
- The Difference Between Last Month's Rent and a Security Deposit
- Security Deposit Laws Can Help Get Your Deposit Back
- What Can a Landlord Deduct from a Security Deposit for Cleaning and Repairs?
Discuss Massachusetts Security Deposit Laws with an Attorney
Landlords must comply with Massachusetts security deposit laws, but they don't always do so, especially when it comes to returning security deposits. If you're involved in a landlord/tenant dispute, contact a local Massachusetts attorney to discuss your specific situation.
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