If you put the rent in your pocket.... In this case a checking account... That you use regulaly.... even if you had the balance sitting there....Then yes, you owe them 5%. If you out it in a checking account that you didn't use, other than to hold this money.... Then you owe them the interest that accumulated. The law reads in relevant part "...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..." See mgl 186 section 15b subsection 2a. Good luck.
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Notwithstanding the fact that banks are only paying minimal interest, this is a very serious infraction on your part, regardless of your intent. You could be held liable for triple damages, attorney's fees and costs.
Consult an experienced landlord tenant attorney at once.
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Yes. Also, if you don't know the answer to that, chances are that you haven't complied fully with 186 s15B and you should consult with an attorney to avoid getting sued.
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Yes! For all the reasons that have been stated. I would also reinforce, get a landlord tenant lawyer to handle this for you, because honestly if you didn't handle this part correctly, you probably made other more critical mistakes that could open you up to large awards for the tenant and you could end up paying the tenant's attorney's fees as well. I recently settled a case with a landlord who was looking at paying a $7500 award to the tenant and a $22,000 attorney's fee award if we had gone to trial.
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