Massachusetts Apartment Inspection Photo Laws

The Massachusetts Landlord and Tenant Act is codified in Chapter 186 of the Massachusetts General Laws. Under Massachusetts law, landlords who accept security deposits from their tenants must give them written receipts acknowledging payment. Furthermore, landlords must provide a tenant with an inspection statement detailing the present condition of the apartment and any existing damages. Photographs are admissible evidence detailing the condition of a tenant’s apartment if there is a future disagreement regarding existing damage and incidental security deposit deductions.

  1. Overview

    • The Landlord and Tenant Act incorporates the Security Deposit Law. According to the Massachusetts Security Deposit Law, a landlord must provide a written inspection statement once a tenant pays his landlord an initial security deposit or within 10 days after the beginning of the tenancy, whichever occurs last. If the tenant does not agree with his landlord’s statement, he must respond to the inspection statement within 15 days after receipt or within 15 days after he moves in, whichever occurs later.

      Failure to respond to a landlord’s written inspection statement within the allowable time limit is deemed approval of the landlord’s statement. However, if a tenant responds within the 15-day limit, the landlord must provide a response to his disapproval within 15 days of receiving it. Once a tenant and a landlord finally agree upon an inspection statement, both parties must sign it.

    Photographic Inspection Evidence

    • According to Massachusetts Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations, a tenant should take photographs of the existing condition of an apartment if she disagrees with any portion of the landlord’s statement of condition for future records.

      If a landlord evicts a tenant for breaching an existing rental agreement, the tenant can sue her landlord through the Massachusetts Housing Court system. The Massachusetts Housing Court has jurisdiction over landlord and tenant problems pursuant to the Massachusetts landlord and tenant act. A landlord can evict a tenant only by filing a “Notice to Quit” if the landlord is evicting a tenant before the end of the lease term. The Massachusetts Housing Court allows tenants and landlords to use photographic evidence of housing code violations and inspection summaries filed in accordance with the commonwealth’s habitability and housing ordinances.

    Security Deposit Law

    • The Massachusetts Security Deposit Law requires landlords to keep their tenants’ security deposits in interest-bearing accounts at state-approved banks, which pay interest at a rate of at least 5 percent interest annually. Landlords must pay accrued interest each year on the anniversary date of each tenant’s one-year occupancy.

      Failure to pay accrued interest annually allows a tenant to deduct interest from his next month’s rent payment. Within 30 days of a tenant’s termination of his lease, the landlord must return her security deposit, plus interest, minus any allowable deductions for incidental damages. If a landlord is deducting from a tenant’s security deposit, he must provide a written account of deductions within 30 days of vacancy.

    Damages

    • According to the Massachusetts Security Deposit Law, a tenant has a right to demand three times the amount of her remaining deposit, interest, reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs if a landlord fails to remit the tenant's remaining deposit within the 30-day limit, fails to keep the tenant's security deposit in an interest-bearing account or fails to transfer the tenant’s security deposit to a new landlord if he sells his property.

    Considerations

    • Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.

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