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Should tenant pay any rental before they move in? Is it leagal to show a unfunction home and ask for last month rental to fix it

Lexington, MA |

We found a renting property from online. When the property was shown by the listing agent, it is in a poor condition (applicants are not function and house is messy). The agent said it should be all fixed when we move in.

He asked for a month rental as the deposit to use as the first month rental when we file the application. Then he ask for last month rental to cover the fixing cost (indicates if we do not pay he will have no money to fix the house).

From my previous renting experience, I only pay deposite to reserve the property, I pay rental after i move in. Is it allowed to ask the payment without disclosure and to rent a property without the money to fix it? what is the correct renting procedure? I am here seeking the suggestions and answers from the professionals. Thanks.

Attorney Answers 3


From the outset, it appears as though this would not be a good choice as a place to live. You already have a landlord who is willing to, egregiously, violate the laws of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 186, Section 15B(2)(a), provides as follows:
Any lessor or his agent who receives, at or prior to the commencement of a tenancy, rent in advance for the last month of the tenancy from a tenant or prospective tenant shall give to such tenant or prospective tenant at the time of such advance payment a receipt indicating the amount of such rent, the date on which it was received, its intended application as rent for the last month of the tenancy, the name of the person receiving it and, in the case of an agent, the name of the lessor for whom the rent is received, and a description of the rented or leased premises, and a statement indicating that the tenant is entitled to interest on said rent payment at the rate of five per cent per year or other such lesser amount of interest as has been received from the bank where the deposit has been held payable in accordance with the provisions of this clause, and a statement indicating that the tenant should provide the lessor with a forwarding address at the termination of the tenancy indicating where such interest may be given or sent.

Any lessor or his agent who receives said rent in advance for the last month of tenancy shall, beginning with the first day of tenancy, pay interest at the rate of five per cent per year or other such lesser amount of interest as has been received from the bank where the deposit has been held. Such interest shall be paid over to the tenant each year as provided in this clause; provided, however, that in the event that the tenancy is terminated before the anniversary date of such tenancy, the tenant shall receive all accrued interest within thirty days of such termination. Interest shall not accrue for the last month for which rent was paid in advance. At the end of each year of tenancy, such lessor shall give or send to the tenant from whom rent in advance was collected a statement which shall indicate the amount payable by such lessor to the tenant. The lessor shall at the same time give or send to such tenant the interest which is due or shall notify the tenant that he may deduct the interest from the next rental payment of such tenant. If, after thirty days from the end of each year of the tenancy, the tenant has not received said interest due or said notice to deduct the interest from the next rental payment, the tenant may deduct from his next rent payment the interest due.

If the lessor fails to pay any interest to which the tenant is then entitled within thirty days after the termination of the tenancy, the tenant upon proof of the same in an action against the lessor shall be awarded damages in an amount equal to three times the amount of interest to which the tenant is entitled, together with court costs and reasonable attorneys fees.

I have included a link for your edification. Good Luck.

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I'd say stay away from this rental.

It SHOULD be fixed when you move in? What do you do when its not? ready.

He wants first month rent as a security deposit. Rent and security deposits are two different thing- not interchangable ante-lease.

He wants first months rent along with the application? Suppose he turns down your application--how do you get your security deposit back? I hear this story at least once a month.

At least one person a day writes in to avvo asking what to do when their apartment is not ready for possession and the landlord already has money. At least one person a day writes in asking what to do when landlord keeps money that went in with the application and the application is later denied.

This rental sounds like he trying to kill two birds with on stone.

Recommend you take a pass.

I am licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, answering your query does not create an attorney-client relationship and I AM NOT providing you legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights--or rights to recovery of damages. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.

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Thank you very much for the answer. My application is approved and he has my money. We signed the lease and haven't received the lease with signature from the landlord (he is in CA). The landlord's representative ask for the last month rental. I ask him to sign an agreetment to make sure the house should be ready, he agrees on email but refuse to sign. what should I do to protect myself or get my money back and move on? Thanks.

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III


Not sure you can now that you signed the lease. May be too late. I guess you'll have to wait and see if they deliver possession as promised. If they do, you're OK. If not, you MAY have grounds to terminate. Best of luck.



Thanks again. I have some more questions. Without any innitial disclosure, can landlord or the representative keep asking for money? If it is disclosed at the beginning, what is the time that tanent pay the first and the last month rental?



I'm not entirely sure what your reference is to an"unfunction" home. However, if the conditions are as bad as you describe the residence may not be legally "habitable" or even compliant with local housing code requirements.

Unless there is no other housing or unless this is the only rental in your price range, I would look at other properties

Additionally, you may want to put a call into your local city hall to discuss your concerns about the habitability of this residence. As far as the deposit, there are strict requirements in massachusets that require that the deposit be placed in an escrow account if it is for a security deposit

I wish you luck

Glenn F. Russell, Jr., Esq.

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