Can I sue my landlord for bad faith and get treble damages?

I vacated my apartment on 1/31/13. I then asked my landlord on 2/28/13 about my security, he assured me that it was in the mail. On 3/14/13 we speak again and he says its still in the mail. On 3/18/13 he calls and says he kept the deposit for damages done to the apartment. He also has an itemized list dated 2/28/13 of estimated costs for damages, but told me the check was in the mail as of March. Can I sue for misleading me?

Chelsea, MA -

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Attorney Answers (3)

Emma A. Kremer

Emma A. Kremer

Litigation Lawyer - Boston, MA

If the damages calculation is inaccurate or the interest earned on your security deposit during your tenancy was unaccounted for, then you may have a cause of action under the landlord-tenant laws and may be able to collect multiple damages. In that case, you would want to contact a landlord-tenant attorney to assist you. If the landlord intentionally misrepresented to you the status of the security deposit and that it would be returned to you in full in hopes that you might forget about it, then that may also be actionable. On the other hand, the landlord may have made a mistake about which tenant you were and what your security deposit return amount would be. You should probably consult an attorney if you feel the landlord may have done something he was not supposed to do with respect to your security deposit. Best of luck.

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Kyle Piro

Kyle Piro

Estate Planning Attorney - Maynard, MA

Security deposits are governed by MGL c.186 ยง 15b. If he has violated the statute then you may well have a claim for treble damages for withholding it unfairly. However, if there was simply a clerical error, such as mistaking you for another tenant, then all the landlord has to do to remedy the situation is return your deposit.

Kyle Piro is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and should not be... more
Melissa Anne Levine-Piro

Melissa Anne Levine-Piro

Divorce / Separation Lawyer - Maynard, MA

You should talk to an attorney regarding sending a demand letter to your landlord. Were there actually damages to the apartment/was his list of itemized damages legitimate? When you moved in did you document the already existing damage in the apartment or did your landlord or was it never done? Many attorneys will send demand letters on a contingent fee, meaning you only pay attorneys fees if they are successful in collecting your security deposit. I think at the very least you should speak to an attorney asap.

Melissa Levine

Melissa Levine is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and should not... more

Related Topics

Landlord-tenant law

Landlord-tenant law is governed mostly by state laws, and covers issues like security deposit limits and deadlines, evictions, and the right to withhold rent.

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