Saturday, June 11, 2016

How to Get Your Security Deposit Back in Boston, MA

Getting Your Security Deposit Back in Boston: A Move-out Checklist

A security deposit is a TON of money! No one wants to sacrifice that sum if they can help it.

This article will provide a checklist of steps which you can use to ensure that you get your security deposit returned when your tenancy ends with a property management company in Boston. 

By following these guidelines, you should receive the full amount of your original deposit, and perhaps be able to use that money as a security deposit for your next place of residence.

What is a security deposit?

A security deposit is a dollar amount which is paid to the landlord by a renter, generally equivalent to the first month's rent, although it could be more or less.

It is intended to cover any damage to an apartment, home, or another residence which exceeds wear and tear which might be expected during normal living at the premises. It also serves as a substitute for rent money in the event that a tenant abandons the premises without paying.

What are common reasons for a landlord to withhold a security deposit?

If a tenant skips out without paying the last month's rent, a landlord is well within his rights to keep a security deposit in lieu of that unpaid rent money.

Apart from this, deductions can be made to the deposit amount for anything considered to be above and beyond normal wear and tear during the term of the tenants' residency.

A partial list of deductions from a security deposit may include the following:

  • stains or cigarette burns in carpeting or on curtains
  • water damage on walls, floors, or furniture
  • missing appliances that came with the rental, e.g. microwave oven
  • damaged washer/dryer
  • damage done to doors or windows
  • holes or abrasions on walls, doors, or floors
  • excessive damage caused by pets
  • abandoned furniture that you decided to leave, the landlord must pay to remove
  • excessive filth, which landlord is obliged to clean up prior to next rental

According to Massachusetts State Law

A landlord is entitled to withhold a security deposit when damages beyond normal wear and tear have been sustained by the residence.

The landlord must give the tenant an itemized list of the costs of damage. If a tenant should willfully or maliciously destroy either personal property or real property under the control of the landlord, the security deposit can legally be used to repair the damage.

Security deposits held by a landlord must be maintained in a separate, interest-bearing account for the duration of the tenancy, and a receipt must be provided to the tenant within 30 days of deposit acceptance.

This receipt must include the name and location of the financial institution where the deposit is being held, along with the amount and the account number. If these terms are not complied with by the landlord, immediate return of the security deposit becomes mandatory.

Move Out Checklist to Ensure Return of a Security Deposit

Of course, the most obvious thing you need to do to ensure the prompt refunding of your security deposit is to avoid damaging any part of the residence while you are an occupant.

Assuming you haven't trashed the place somehow, here are other steps you should follow:

  • Know the details of your lease - The number one way to lose a security deposit is by violating the terms of your lease, so make sure you have read and understood everything in your lease agreement, and that you abide by those terms during the period of the tenancy.
  • Make cleaning a priority - Prior to departure, set aside a day where you conduct a thorough cleaning of the residence, making sure that it has been returned to the same condition, as nearly as possible, as it was when you first occupied it.
  • Arrange a Landlord walk-through - Arrange for a walk-through with your landlord, perhaps a week before you intend to leave. At this time, ask about any potential deductions from your deposit, so that you might still have time to remedy them. This should be a courteous exchange between you and your landlord, ideally a session in which you both agree on the condition of the residence, as compared to its original status.
  • Document the condition of the residence - Take pictures when you move out to have documentation of the exact state of the residence, should any subsequent disputes arise.

Choose the Right Property Management Company to Ensure Compliance

Choosing the right property management team in Boston ensures that all security deposit matters are dealt with fairly. If you believe that your property management company has not followed the laws for returning a security deposit in Boston, you may need to seek legal help.

Having good conduct as listed above will prevent you from giving the management any reason to hold onto your security.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Preparing for Summer Apartment Turnover in Boston

School's Out for Summer! How to Prepare, as a Tenant or Landlord, for Summer Apartment Turnover in Boston

Many American cities undergo a remarkable transformation as the summer season approaches, but for Boston property management, that changeover is can be quite a drastic changeover.

The primary reason for this notable makeover hinges on the fact that more than 150,000 students are registered in Boston-area learning institutions, and while those numbers swell the city population when school is in session, there is an equal diminution when classes let out.

Apart from all the changes which occur to Boston's daily commerce and its prevailing atmosphere, there are also huge changes in the tenancy of apartment buildings and other student housing facilities in the area. 

In this article, learn how landlords and tenants would be well advised to take steps to prepare for the coming mass exodus in the summer, and to keep an eye on the inevitable fall return.

What should a property manager or tenant do to prepare for Summer vacation?

Tenants will, of course, have to provide landlords with notification about their intentions regarding the premises, i.e. whether you intend to actually leave for the summer, and if so, whether you intend to return in the fall, should the premises still be available. 

According to Massachusetts State Law, when open-ended rental agreements are in effect for three months or longer, a full three month's notice is required to be provided to a landlord. For month-to-month leases, only one month notice is necessary.

Property owners and managers should immediately begin seeking replacement tenants, as soon as current tenant intentions are known. By advertising vacancies at the earliest opportunity, chances become much greater of finding tenants to replace any departing students.

What are the Options for Tenants to Return to the Same Apartment in the Fall? 

It would be ideal to arrange this, since it would eliminate the need to search for suitable accommodations in the fall, as well as help avoid the necessity of removing all your furnishings when you students leave for the summer. 

If you have the financial means to continue the rental agreement during your absence, or you can arrange with another student or friend to serve as a replacement tenant, it could certainly save a great deal of hassle.

In most cases, this would also probably work out very well for landlords, since it would not be necessary to search for replacement tenants. This is especially true when the possibility arises at the end of every semester, and the same requirement of renting the apartment becomes necessary.

Planning in Advance for Extended Leave from an Apartment

In a situation where you are vacating the premises as a tenant, and they will not be occupied until you return in the fall, there are some preparatory steps you should take. 

Checklist for Tenants to Prepare for Summer Vacation

  • Turn off utilities like gas and water
  • Make sure appliances are all off
  • Take out trash and clean dishes
  • Stop or redirect mail to your summer place of residence.
  • Provide your landlord with your emergency contact information, should there be a need to reach you prior to re-occupation. 
  • Arrange with your landlord to pay online, or remit the monthly amounts via postal mail. 

Checklist for Landlords to Prepare for Summer Vacation

  • Confirm that all utilities have been turned off for the duration of the tenant's extended absence.
  • Make sure you have the correct key for emergency entry according to tenant privacy laws.
  • Review with your tenant any potential maintenance that may be upcoming during summer
  • Provide your tenant with contacts for Boston property maintenance and emergency support

Enjoy Summer, Prepare for the Fall

By following these simple guidelines for summer preparation, both tenant and landlord can enjoy the summer season equally. 

If both parties take the time to inform themselves of Massachusetts regulations regarding landlord and tenants, misunderstandings should be virtually eliminated, and both will have an understanding of their rights and obligations. 

Enjoy your summer, and come back to watch the autumn transformation take place in the city along the Charles River!