Can new landlord ask for a security deposit?

I have lived in my unit as a tenant at will for over 10 yrs. A new landlord just purchased the building and is asking for a security deposit in the amount of 550. I was never charged a security deposit before. Is it legal for her to do this?

Asked on May 20, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The new landlord cannot do it during the middle of a lease term, if you have a written lease for a definite period of time (e.g. a one year lease that's not yet expired). While a lease is in effect, a new landlord can not add to or alter it, such as by requiring a security deposit if the lease does not provide for one.
But when the current written lease expires, or on 30 days notice if you are a month to month tenant (either under an oral, or unwritten lease, or under a written month-to-month lease), he can require a security deposit. Landlords may get security deposits, and when a lease expires (or on a month's notice for a month-to-month tenant), landlords can require a security deposit as a condition of renewing the tenancy. It doesn't matter if you never paid one before--that has no bearing on the landlord's rights. If you don't provide one when he can legally ask for it, he can look to evict you.


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