I am a renter with a lease in Massachusetts. I have just gotten confirmation, in writing, that my landlord did not place my security deposit in a separate, interest-bearing bank account not subject to creditors. His reason was that he is an individual, not a property manager. I'm fairly certain this is illegal, and the specific lease that I signed also stipulates that the deposit will be placed in a separate account. I want to be released from my lease now rather than in 2 months, when the lease ends.
1) Does his having violated this security deposit law have any bearing on whether I can end the lease early? If not, should I threaten to bring suit for 3x the amount and hope that will encourage him to release me voluntarily ?
2) Should I request the immediate return of my deposit?
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
I would try to settle the issue with your landlord - he let's you break the lease early and gives you back your full security deposit or you file suit immediatly.
You should work with an attorney who will take this on a contingency fee basis if you cannot reach an agreement - this is a fairly standard issue.
I wish you all the best.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have an office in Waltham. My practice is focused in the areas of family law, estate planning, probate, elder law, landlord-tenant and employment law. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. Please contact me with questions and concerns at: (T): 781-647-8100 (E): email@example.com I wish you all the best.
4 lawyers agree
Administrative Law Lawyer
An online guide is *not* a substitute for legal representation. However, if you wish to learn a bit more about the area just for your own education, you could consider reading through AG Coakley's guide at http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/consumer/landlordtenant073007.pdf
2 lawyers agree
Employment / Labor Attorney
I think Attorney Robbins has given you great advice, and I agree that in your situation I would try to compromise. The enforceability of the lease will depend in part on the wording: if there's a severability clause, which states that the failure of any term does not invalidate the rest, it might still be enforceable; if there's a clause stating that the breach of any term is material, it might go the other way.
Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney
The security deposit and wanting to break the lease are separate issues. To determine if the lease is enforceable it needs to be reviewed. The security deposit requirements are set by law and a landlord cannot change them. If he has not complied with the law he is not entitled to hold the deposit and must return it on demand. If he does not return the deposit as required he will be liable for 3 times the deposit, plus attorneys fees. This can give you leverage to negotiate an early termination of the lease. If you only have 2 months to go, you could still end up ahead.
You should consult with an attorney to know your rights before you do anything. Some attorneys may take this on as a contingency basis if you retain them.
DISCLAIMER: This answer is provided in response to a "hypothetical" question and provided for general, informational purposes and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The information presented is not legal advice and may change based additional information and research. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney to discuss your specific legal issues.