Notes from the Legal Hotline: Tenant Rights

Q.  I have a tenant who is offering to pay 6 months of rent upfront – is that allowed?

A. No. For tenancies greater than 100 days in duration, the provisions of the Security Deposit statute apply. The statute prohibits a lessor from requiring a tenant to pay any amount in excess of:

1. First month’s rent
2. Last month’s rent calculated at the same rate as the first month’s rent
3. Security deposit equal to the first month’s rent
4. The purchase and installation cost for a new lock and key.

On occasion, a prospective tenant may offer to pay rent in advance. Even if the subject of prepaid rent originates from the prospective tenant, rather than the landlord making a demand, this is likely still a violation of the statute. Generally, this type of offer is made by prospective tenants who are unlikely to have their application approved by the landlord. Although the landlord may not be making the request for prepaid rent, the end result is the same – amounts being paid that exceed the parameters of the statute in order to secure housing. Courts are also unlikely to view such an agreement favorably as it would restrict a tenant’s ability to withhold rent in the event that the landlord violates the lease.

Thank you to the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS for providing this Q & A with regard to rent paid in advance.  Printed with permission from the MAR.