What is the law regarding the return of security deposits?

UPDATED: Sep 14, 2011

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What is the law regarding the return of security deposits?

We have a 2 year lease which states that if we break it we forfeit the security deposit. We have been late 1 month, which is of course against terms of the lease. Our landlord wants to sell and is using this to give us notice. Can the landord legally forfeit our deposit. Also, the landlord never gave us notice of the security deposit’s account number or anything. She did give a bank name on the lease (no address). I read this means we can demand immediate return of the deposit or sue for treble damages in this state. Is this correct?

Asked on September 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In all states in this country, the purpose of a security deposit for a lease is to pay for damages to the unit during its rental. A security deposit cannot be forfeited as a matter of course.

You need to carefully read your written lease with your landlord in that its terms and conditions control the obligations owed to you by the landlord and vice versa absent conflicting state law.

If you were late one month with your rent but have paid the amount where the landlord accepted the payment without objection, he or she has waived any irregularities under your lease for the late payment.

In short, your landlord cannot forfeit your security deposit for the rental if you were late on a monthly rental.

Good luck.

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