When to Return a Security Deposit

Every Massachusetts landlord needs to know and follow the important topic of when to return a security deposit. The seemingly minor mistake of not returning a security deposit in a timely manner can incur enormous penalties for landlords.

Security Deposit Overview

The Massachusetts security deposit law regulates nearly every aspect of a landlord’s acceptance, holding, and return of a security deposit. Both landlords and tenants are often surprised by the details of this law and how many nuances exist with security deposits. Few lawyers (myself included) claim to understand every line of this law.

What should a landlord do if they don’t want to follow the security deposit law? Don’t take a security deposit! Few landlords ever fully comply with this law, and the risks of not doing so far outweigh the benefit of having a security deposit from a tenant.

When to Return a Security Deposit

Once a tenancy is over, the security deposit deadline begins: a landlord has thirty days to (a) return the deposit to the tenant or (b) properly withhold deductions from the deposit. As you can probably guess, both of these options come with specific requirements on their own, which is a topic for another blog post.

The key point, however, is that this thirty-day deadline is “set in stone.” If a landlord misses it, they face the possibility of a lawsuit for treble damages, attorney fees, and court costs. For this reason, landlords need to be diligent in meeting this deadline.

Final Thoughts

If you are a landlord or tenant with a security deposit issue, contact me for a consultation.