Phillips v. Equity Residential Management, LLCAnnotate this Case
Under the Security Deposit Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 186, 15B, the treble damages provision in section 15B(7) does not apply to a landlord’s violation of the requirements for an itemized list set out in section 15B(4)(iii), second-degree sentence, or to the amount forfeited for violation of section 15B(6)(b).
At issue in this certified question was whether a tenant is entitled to treble the amount of his entire security deposit under section 15B(7) where a landlord fails to provide to the tenant a statement of damages that meets the statutory requirements, see section 15B(4)(iii), second sentence, thereby forfeiting the entire security deposit, see section 15B(6)(b), and also fails to return that forfeited deposit within thirty days after the tenancy’s termination. The Supreme Court answered the certified question in the negative, holding (1) a landlord violates section 15B(6)(e) only where she fails to return or account for any portion of the security deposit within thirty days, or where the landlord makes a deduction that does not fall within the categories authorized by section 15B(4)(i), (ii), (iii), first sentence; and (2) a violation of section 15(6)(e) does not apply to any portion of the security deposit that was forfeited under another provision of section 15B(6).