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I am negotiating with a landlord for a month to month tenancy. However, I have a dog, and my prospective landlord says I will have to pay an additional "dog deposit" to cover any damages my dog may cause. Is that against the law in MA? -- Kim, Methuen
 
Massachusetts law prohibits landlords from collecting any money in advance of a new tenancy other than the first and last month's rent, a security deposit in an amount equal to or less than one month's rent, and the cost of installing a new lock. (Massachusetts General Laws, c. 186, s. 15B). If your landlord is already requiring these advance payments, he cannot collect a "dog deposit" or any other type of deposit. If the landlord wants, he can refer to a security deposit as a "pet deposit,"  but the total deposit cannot exceed one month's rent and he must comply with MA law regarding security deposits in dealing with the pet deposit.  So, for example, the money would have to be kept in a "trust" account, safe from the landlord's creditors.
 
On the other hand, a landlord may insert language in a lease or tenancy agreement that prohibits pets. With a few exceptions, like dogs trained to assist disabled persons, such a prohibition is legal and enforceable. (Submitted by the Editor)

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