Legal minute with Cooley Shrair: Renting & Security Deposits

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – If you are renting your home or renting a home, these tips could save you money. Attorney Shawn Willis from the Law Offices of Cooley Shrair in Springfield joined us with tips.

How much can a landlord require a tenant to pay up front before allowing the tenant to move in?

  • The first month’s rent
  • The last month’s rent
  • Security deposit
  • Purchase and installation cost for a lock and key

Tenants should know that security deposits cannot not be more than one months rent.  However, if the rent increases during the tenancy the landlord can require the tenant to increase the amount held as security as well as last month’s rent.


Is there anything a tenant can do to be sure their security deposits are returned at the end of the tenancy?

Tenants are entitled to receive their security deposit within 30 days after tenancy ends.

You should also know that the landlord must place the security deposit and the last month’s rent in a separate interest bearing account in a Massachusetts bank and that you are entitled to the interest accrued on those accounts.

So within 30 days after receipt of the security deposit, the landlord must give you a receipt identifying the bank’s name and address, the account number, and the amount of the deposit. If the landlord fails to comply, you are entitled to immediate return of your security deposit.


Under what circumstances can the Landlord keep the security deposit?

The landlord can deduct from the security deposit for any unpaid rent which has not been withheld validly or deducted under the law; any unpaid increase in real estate taxes which the tenant was obligated to pay under a valid tax escalator clause; a reasonable amount necessary to repair any damage caused by the tenant.

Keep in mind that the landlord must provide a list of the damages and the costs within 30 days and cannot deduct for damages or repair work that existed at the time the tenant moved in.

When a landlord takes a security deposit they are required to provide a statement of condition.  That is why it is important to do a thorough inspection of the premises before paying the security deposit. If you disagree with the statement or have items to add, you should give the landlord a written statement clearly outlining your discrepancies.

If the landlord fails to properly handle the security deposit, the tenant is entitled to have all of the security deposit returned and in some instances you could be entitled to further damages and attorney’s fees if legal action


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About Cooley Shrair:

Cooley, Shrair P.C., founded in 1946 by Judge Sidney M. Cooley and Attorney Edward B. Cooley, is a progressive law firm located in Springfield, MA. Cooley Shrair provides unequaled service to its clients. Our unparalleled response time to our clients’ needs is the foundation of our mission statement.

At Cooley Shrair, family and business have always had a way of blending together. We know the importance of balancing the boardroom and the courtroom with the living room from time to time. We listen carefully to understand our clients’ concerns and work vigorously with them to develop strategies for success. It’s not just business, it’s personal.

We pride ourselves in being the most responsive lawyers in the area, covering virtually every area of practice for individuals and multinational corporations across the United States and Canada. Cooley Shrair is recognized consistently for exceeding client expectations and providing competent, integrated, and cost-effective legal services.

Our attorneys are each distinguished in their respective areas of concentration and are complemented by a professional support staff. Cooley Shrair is a formidable opponent who fiercely advocates on behalf of our clients and we take pride in our commitment to provide unparalleled response and unparalleled solutions.

We’re a family, and to us, that’s very personal business.

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