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Landlord not paying water/sewer and keeping security deposit

I recently moved out of an apartment that I lived in for 3 years in Brigham Circle. The first year I lived there with my boyfriend (shared a room) and two other roommates. I never signed the lease and for the roommates who did sign the lease, and there was no water addendum. For years two and three, I lived in the same bedroom by myself and with the other two roommates without a lease (month-to-month tenancy). About halfway into year two, we get a shut off notice from the Boston Water and Sewer Department. I brought this up to the landlord and he stated that we were responsible for all back bills. I argued with him and said he was liable as there was no water addendum and the bills do not come to us. Since he is "always out of the country," I paid the tennants amount to keep the water on every month for the past two years. Last month I had enough of this as the landlord was unwilling to meet with me to negotiate how the water should be handled, so I notified him that I would be moving out in 30 days. He had my last months rent already so I cancelled the rent check for that month. The landlord is unwilling to return my security deposit and is trying to make me pay more in rent to cover the check that I cancelled. What should I do?

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The law in Massachusetts places strict requirements on landlords with respect to security deposits and sub-metering of water bills.  If you have paid the last month's rent you should be able to get the security deposit back. You can take the landlord to Housing Court.  It seems unlikely that your landlord followed all of the requirements spelled out in the above-linked post regarding the taking of security deposits.  If he has, then he needs to prove that he is entitled to keep all or some portion of the deposit.  If he is claiming he can keep the deposit because of the water charges, then he needs to show that the water was properly metered, that you agreed to pay the water, and that you did not.  At Housing Court, there are Housing Specialist who can mediate this issue and help you sort it out.  Good luck.

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