When we move into a new apartment in Massachusetts, the landlord is limited to charging

  1. First Month’s Rent
  2. Last Month’s Rent
  3. Security Deposit
  4. one time lock and key fee.

This issue is regulated directly by M.G.L. c.186 s.15B. Anything else is generally unlawful.

For example, if the first month’s rent is $2000.00, then the landlord could require a last month’s rent and security deposit, for a total of $6000.00 to move in. The landlord may also require the tenant pay a lock and key fee – but it must be reasonable.

The only exception to the above may be where a broker requires an application processing fee and/or a broker fee equal to or less than one month’s rent. Landlords cannot require an application fee but the broker can. See 254 CMR 7.

There are various other tendrils of c.186 s.15B that regulate things like

  • interest paid to tenant annually on the Last Month’s Rent and Security Deposit at 5% or market rate of the account
  • Security Deposit must be held in interest bearing account in tenant’s name in Massachusetts
  • treble damages on Security Deposit violations
  • record keeping requirements for landlords
  • tenant right to inspect landlord security deposit records annually
  • process for landlord to retain Security Deposit lawfully and
  • liability for Security Deposit after sale of property.

I have found the most common gaffe made by landlords in Massachusetts at the beginning of a rental is using a form lease agreement found online or shoehorned in from another landlord.

This mistake is usually comorbid with the usual cast of unlawful characters:

  • illegal lease clauses
  • deposits (in excess of the monthly rent, to hold the apartment, et cetera)
  • failure to comply with notice and account number requirements for Deposits
  • and my all time favorite, pet deposits.

If you’ve been taken advantage of by a predatory landlord, contact me today to schedule a consultation.

-Michael J. Shivick, Esq.

Attorney Shivick has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases against Massachusetts landlords over the last 10 years, and has a proven track record of collecting money judgments against small and large landlords in Suffolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Norfolk, Middlesex, Barnstable, Hampshire, Berkshire, Franklin, and Worcester Counties.

No nonsense. No frills. Demonstrated Results.