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I returned a security deposit to a tennant after we both agreed on the amount now he is suing me after the fact for triple damag

Boston, MA |

Suing me for triple damages when we agreed on the amount and when we agreed on the very sane day he oved out that we would get back together after the new year chich was 54 days after he moved to settle things have I been framed ? wont the judge see this evil trick for what it is ?

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Attorney answers 3


Some details are missing, most critically when you were to pay him the agreed upon amount. Sounds like he is suing for failure to return the deposit within 30 days as required by law (although he could also be claiming other violations of the security deposit law). However, if you agreed with him to a compromise on its return because there were legitimate reasons to hold the security deposit, then by all means bring that agreement to the judge's attention. If the judge finds that agreement to be binding, you should be OK. But again, when under that agreement were you to pay him the compromise amount? If you two did not agree on that point, there is a risk to you.


1) Have you fully returned it?
2) Did the tenant file the complaint before or after you returned it?

Under the relevant statute (186 s15B) you have to return the full deposit within 30 days unless you follow very precise procedures to keep it. Most landlords get the procedure wrong, so even if they try to do the right thing they end up breaking the law.

I have rarely seen a judge award triple damages when the deposit was returned prior to the filing of a complaint, even if the return time was after the 30 day period. But once the complaint is filed, in most cases the landlord can no longer avoid the triple damages.

This is an interesting situation. You're saying that you have some sort of agreement which would extend the time. I'm actually not sure such an agreement would even be permissible under 186 s15B (and what would the consideration be for the agreement?) But in any case you'll need to bring the agreement to an attorney.

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You need to speak with an experience Landlord/Tenant attorney. Oftentimes clerks will not listen to reason in this situation. You would also need to provide further details about the "agreement." Was it memorialized somehow?