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How much can a Massachusetts landlord collect from their tenant up front?

Posted by attorney Jennifer DiCarlo

This question comes up all the time and the answer is really very clear. A Massachusetts landlord can collect amounts for only 4 different items in advance of a tenancy: 1) First month's rent; 2) Last month's rent (calculated at the same rate as the first month); 3) A security deposit equal to the first month's rent; and 4) The cost of a the purchase and installation for a key and lock. Can the landlord seek reimbursement from a tenant for the fee the landlord had to pay a broker to fill their vacancy? Absolutely not. Again, see the 4 items that may be charged above. But, before a landlord goes and takes these items from a new tenant, they need to remember that there are very specific rules for handling last month's rent and security deposits. Failure to follow them could lead to very harsh penalties, like triple damages (that's 3 times the amount of the security deposit) plus attorney's fees and court costs.

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