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Security Deposits and Last Month's Rent

At the beginning of a tenancy, a landlord is allowed to demand certain payments from you before you move into your new apartment. These may include a security deposit and last month’s rent payment.

The single most important step that every tenant should take when giving a landlord a security deposit or last month’s rent payment is to get a written receipt. A receipt is your best protection. It may save you money and prevent problems between you and your landlord later on.

Because landlords had been known to wrongfully hold on to security deposits and last month’s rent payments and force tenants to sue to get their money back, the state legislature passed a security deposit law to protect tenants.  This law applies to all landlords, regardless of how many apartments they own. 1 This chapter tells you what these laws are and how you can protect your rights.


1G.L. c. 186, §15B. There is one exception to this rule. The security deposit law does not apply to landlords who rent
places for seasonal or vacation purposes for 100 days or less. G.L. c. 186, §15B(9).

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Created October 2008

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