My landlord is refusing to return my deposit for bogus reasons, and she never gave me all the receipts and other documents she should have. Am I right that this is also a violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (93A), so I can sue for three times my damages? (Posted by Chick on the Forum.)
Yes, you are correct. In fact, just about any violation of Massachusetts landlord & tenant law constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act, also known as Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A. (For a list of specific examples, see 940 Code of Massachusetts Regulations 3.17) The ever-popular security deposit violation is a particularly juicy one for tenants because when you start multiplying the security deposit time three, the damages can add up quickly. You should refer to our Quick Information Library for articles on Chapter 93A and writing demand letter. Be aware, however, that landlord is not covered by the Consumer Protection Act if you live in a two or three family building and your landlord lives in the same building (UNLESS, he or she also owns other rental property).
There are also other laws that may entitle tenants to collect triple damages based on the actions of a landlord. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 186, Section 15B allows triple damages, for example, if the landlord fails to return the security deposit or provide an itemized list of damages to which the security deposit was applied:
(7) If the lessor or his agent fails to comply with clauses (a), (d), or (e) of subsection 6, the tenant shall be awarded damages in an amount equal to three times the amount of such security deposit or balance thereof to which the tenant is entitled plus interest at the rate of five per cent from the date when such payment became due, together with court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
Clause (a), referenced above, requires the landlord to place the security deposit in an interest bearing account. Clause (d) deals with transferring the deposit to the person who buys the building in which the tenant lives. And Clause (e) requires the landlord to return to the tenant the security deposit or the remaining balance, after deducting appropriate amounts for damages or past due rent, within thirty days after termination of the tenancy.