What every tenant should know about Last Month’s rent in Massachusetts

What every tenant should know about Last Month’s rent in Massachusetts


Ever been in a bad situation as a renter, and had your “last month’s rent” go up in smoke as you prepared to move out? Are you just curious about what exactly “last month’s rent” even means, or how it works between tenant and landlord? There are some basic principles to keep in mind when considering your last month’s rent in the state of Massachusetts.

 

In Massachusetts, a landlord can request first and last month’s rent, a security deposit in the amount no greater than one month’s rent, and a change in lock fee.   No other fees can be charged, including application fees or a pet deposit.

 Landlord’s MUST give Tenants a Receipt.

A tenant should have last month''s rent documentedIf you paid last month’s rent in Massachusetts, as a renter you are legally entitled to a receipt of your payment. In fact G.L. c. 186, § 15B requires that you receive a receipt, otherwise your landlord is liable to you for monetary damages. Think about it like a copy of your contract: if your landlord doesn’t give you a receipt, as a tenant you have very little way of concretely proving that last month’s rent was paid. If a landlord doesn’t give you a receipt, make sure to take it up with them as soon as possible. If they refuse to provide one, you should get in contact. Always pay last month’s rent with a check and write in the memo section “last month’s rent.”

 That Receipt? It Needs to Be Specific.

If your landlord is fair enough about providing a receipt, and remember that they MUST do so under G.L. c. 186, § 15B, then you should be sure that the receipt you are receiving has all of the right information on it. Your last month’s rent should have the following specific details:

  • The amount of the payment that you made, down to the last cent.
  • The date the payment was received by your landlord.
  • The payment’s intended use (as the last month’s rent.) This may seem obvious, but cover your bases.
  • The name of the person receiving it (your landlord).
  • A description of the premises you are renting.
  • The fact that you are entitled to interest; and
  • The fact that you should provide a forwarding address at the termination of the tenancy.

Unlike security deposit, the landlord does not need to hold the last month rent in an escrow account or give a statement of conditions at the time the funds are received. However, you are entitled to interests on your last month’s rent.

 As a tenant, you are entitled to interest payments on your last month’s rent.

In Massachusetts, as a renter you are entitled to interest payments, paid on the annual anniversary of your tendering your last month rent. If your landlord fails to give you notice of the interests earned, the landlord will be liable in the amount of three times the amount of interests earned plus attorney fees and cost. G.L. c. 186, § 15B(2)(a); 940 C.M.R. § 3.17(4)(k)

As a tenant, it’s important for you to remember that everything needs to be documented. If you are sensing any hostility from your landlord, or believe that you are being treated unlawfully, Please get in contact.

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

About Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday practices law in Cambridge and Martha's Vineyard Massachusetts. He works in the areas of Real Estate, Personal Injury, and Consumer Protection Law. When not practicing law, Arthur enjoys sailing, hanging out with friends on the beach, and waking his dog "Ridiculous."

  • sarah

    Hi Arthur,
    Quick question for you regarding the interest you mentioned. Does the landlord take out taxes on that amount (the 5% interest earned), or do the tenants receive the full amount of that 5% interest?
    Thank you,
    Sarah