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.
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.
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.
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.
- Massachusetts Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations: A Massachusetts Consumer Guide to Landlord Rights and Responsibilities
- Massachusetts Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations: A Massachusetts Consumer Guide to Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
- The Massachusetts Court System: Housing Frequently Asked Questions
- Massachusetts Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations: Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
- Massachusetts Legislature General Laws: Landlord and Tenant Act -- Chapter 186