Reader Email: Upfront Rent Question

The Email: Dear Off-Campus Housing, I recently found a great apartment through a friend of a friend. The landlord was very nice, but his lease requires that I pay six months rent up front. Is that a normal procedure? Please advise.

Off-Campus Housing Response: No, neither a landlord nor an agent can require you to pay six months of rent upfront. If you are renting directly from a landlord, the maximum upfront costs are restricted to (1) the first month's rent, (2) the last month's rent, and (3) a refundable security deposit. The landlord legally can only ask for those three payments as well as a lock/key charge (usually about $50 per person). If you secure an apartment using a real estate agent, then you can also legally be charged a one time commission fee of up to one month's rent. For more information of landlord/agent expectations, please visit our landlord/agent resources page.

Also keep in mind, the security deposit needs to be put in a separate, interest-bearing account in a bank located in Massachusetts. Within thirty (30) days of receiving the security deposit, the landlord must give you (the tenant) a receipt containing the following information: (1) The name and location of the bank where the money is being held, (2) the account number, and (3) the amount of the deposit. It is the law to keep the security deposit in a separate, interest bearing account (you are only entitled to interest on the security deposit if it is held for one year or longer).

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