Landlord not returning deposit for AC compressor not working

12 Replies

My Friend living in Massachusetts. He recently completed his lease. He kept and returned house cleaner than he received from landlord. While moving out walk-through he updated landlord and suggested to service Air Conditioning unit since compressor was not working. Landlord now denying to return deposit money and asking to fix air compressor. Is it renter's responsibility to fix? What should he do?

An AC compressor that went out would not typically be the responsibility of the tenant. Your friend should send a demand letter for the return of his security deposit, or whatever portion of it he feels should be returned. And if he still isn't satisfied, the appropriate remedy is usually small claims court.

@Shawn Gor most states have strong laws to protect tenant deposits. Massachusetts is a liberal state and I am sure they have tough laws. In MD a tenant can be due triple the deposit back if the landlord doesn’t follow specific procedures. I doubt any judge would put up with a landlord taking money out of a security deposit for a failed AC unit.

@Shawn Gor   Want to get your butt handed to you as a MA landlord?  It's easy - screw with a tenant's security deposit.

Your buddy needs to send a demand letter stating what the problem is and what he wants as a solution and give the landlord 30 days to make it right.  This is the formula for filing a claim under the MA Consumer Protection Act - Chapter 93A.

If the landlord fails to return the deposit, your friend should go straight to small claims court and fill out a complaint ($25.00).  He will most likely be awarded treble (triple) damages.

He should make contemporaneous notes and collect any documentation he has for evidence, but this is likely to be a slam dunk in court.

I have to disagree somewhat with Charlie MacPherson. The landlord has 30 days to send a letter to the former tenant returning the deposit or explaining why he is retaining it or a portion of it. If this is not done it is an automatic triple damages.

I would not bother with a 93A letter to the landlord as you just have to wait another 30 days for him to respond. If your friend does not get the full deposit back in 30 days I would go to small claims court (and the lowest filing fee is $50 and then scales up from there). I agree that unless it can be shown that your friend some how damaged the compressor he should get the full amount back (assuming there are no other issues with the condition of the apartment) Let the court decide whether he is responsible or not. Be sure to have him fill out the form for the triple amount to begin with.

Sorry Charlie, as they say, it is an automatic triple damages without the 93A letter by law even in small claims. 

Helped  a girlfriend get triple her deposit back. Sued for the triple damages (no 93A letter) landlord sent her the deposit back and then got mad when she would not dimiss the case and wanted her day in court. Clerk Magistrate (they hear the small claims) told the landlord too bad too late automatic triple damages pay her the rest of the money

@Shawn Gor We are only hearing one side of the story . Are you certain your friend didn’t damage the unit by doing something stupid ?? There’s always more to the story and it would be almost inconceivable to think a landlord would charge this to a deposit in a liberal state without having some inside reason to do so