Judge Rejects Upfront Fees

A large Massachusetts landlord this week lost its argument that it has the right to charge tenants application fees, amenity fees, and other upfront costs.

 According to a report, a federal judge sided with tenants who brought a lawsuit over what they say were illegal fees. Tenants were charged from $50 to $100 to apply, and up to $500 for amenities. In addition, tenants paid “move-in” fees, pet fees, and “community” fees.

The judge ruled that these fees violated the state’s security deposit law, which limits upfront charges to first and last month’s rent, a deposit, and the cost to re-key the locks.

The amount of damages owed to the tenants in this case will be determined at a later date.

The landlord is subject to another related lawsuit. The judge ruled that the cases will be consolidated, and that class action status is granted to tenants. That could greatly increase the payout owed to tenants. The landlord owns over 6,600 units, according to the report.

The company also was accused of violating the security deposit laws by overcharging tenants for cleaning costs.

In a landmark case from 2012, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that a Boston-area landlord violated the law by charging a $475 upfront fee to cover the use of the pool, gym and  an outdoor grill.

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