Security Deposit Laws in Massachusetts

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

Whether you're interested in a fully furnished Southie studio in Boston or a dreamy vacation spot in Salem, if you rent property in Massachusetts, you'll likely have to pay a security deposit. A security deposit is a sum of money (usually one-months' rent) separate from the advance rent payments that a new resident gives to the landlord.

If you're the tenant, you should think of it as saving you money later if you damage the property or skip out on the lease. Obviously, you want all (or most of it) back when your move out, but the landlord can keep some or all of it for unpaid rent or damages beyond normal wear and tear. The purpose of the security deposit from the landlord's perspective is that it lessens the financial hit to them if the tenant breaks the lease and leaves early.

Synopsis of Security Deposit Laws in Massachusetts

The laws on security deposits vary, depending on where the rental property is located. There may be specific rules for your county and city, so be sure to check out the relevant local laws. For a plain language synopsis of statewide laws, see the chart below.

Statute

Massachusetts General Laws Part II. Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations Ch. 186, Section 15B

Statutory Limits for Security Deposit

 

Under Massachusetts law, a landlord is only allowed to charge a tenant the equivalent of one-month of rent for a security deposit.

Massachusetts Security Deposit Laws: Landlord Duties

Mandatory Disclosure to Tenant

When the landlord first receives the security deposit, they must provide the tenant with the following information:

  • The amount of the deposit;
  • The name of the person receiving it;
  • If it is received by a property manager, then the name of the lessor for whom the security deposit is received;
  • The date on which the deposit is received; and
  • A description of the premises.

Within 30 days of receiving the security deposit, the landlord must disclose the following information about the security deposit:

  • The name of the financial institution;
  • The address of the financial institution;
  • The account number; and
  • The total amount of money deposited.

Security Deposit Interest

  • Landlord must pay tenants 5% interest per year or the amount of interest paid by the Massachusetts bank;
  • Interest should be paid within 30 days of the termination of the tenancy;
  • Interest will not accrue for the last month for which rent was paid.

Deadline for the Return of the Security Deposit

A landlord is required to return a tenant's security deposit (less any deductions) within 30 days after the tenant has surrendered the property by returning the keys and vacating/leaving the property.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Security Deposit Laws in Massachusetts: Related Resources

Discuss Massachusetts Security Deposit Laws with an Attorney

Landlords must comply with Massachusetts security deposit laws, but they don't always do so, especially when it comes to returning security deposits. If you're involved in a landlord/tenant dispute, contact a local Massachusetts attorney to discuss your specific situation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.