Security deposit violations are a defense to evictions


The Supreme Judicial Court this morning decided that a landlord’s violation of the highly complex security deposit law may be asserted as a defense to an eviction. I counsel all but full time professional landlords to take last months rent instead of a security deposit, because of the complexities required by that law.

We conclude that a violation of the security deposit
statute is encompassed within the definition of “counterclaim or
defense” in G. L. c. 239, § 8A, and that a counterclaim or
defense on that basis may be asserted as a defense to a
landlord’s possession in a summary process action under G. L.
c. 239, § 1A. Therefore, we reverse the Housing Court judgment
granting possession to the landlord and remand for a hearing in
accordance with the provisions of G. L. c. 239, § 8A, fifth par.


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