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The Lowdown on Rental Deposits

Moving out of a rental home or apartment provides its own challenges. And while it should be a painless process, many people find themselves hiring a Boston real estate attorney when things get messy.

Ironically, messiness may be the very reason that a Boston real estate attorney may need to get involved. Rental deposits can become an issue, especially when a landlord claims the need to keep the deposit as a means of cleaning up the physical mess left behind in an apartment.

Of course, cleanup isn't the only reason a landlord could invoke in order to keep your rental deposit. And so often, Massachusetts renters go along with their former landlord's wishes and allow the landlord to keep the rental deposit.

Often, without good legal reason.

In Massachusetts, a landlord has 30 days from when a tenant moves out to return the deposit. If the landlord has used any portion of that deposit to pay for back-rent, repairs or cleanup, the landlord must send you an itemized statement showing exactly how that money was applied.

As for the itemized statement, it's not enough that the landlord writes "for repairs and cleaning." The landlord needs to spell out the expense in detail, telling you exactly what your deposit money was used for.

Another issue that can come up is the use of your rental deposit for repairs. While a landlord may be able to use your deposit money for repairs, the landlord cannot use the money to remedy ordinary wear and tear. A stained carpet may be a reason for the landlord to keep some of your rental deposit, but a slightly dirty carpet won't be sufficient reason to keep your rental deposit.

If you have any questions about rental deposits, talk to a Boston real estate lawyer. Also, check out our related resources links below for more information on renter's rights.

Related Resources