Security deposits are OK, but in Massachusetts, don’t ask your residents for a non-refundable amenity fee. That’s the word from a federal judge who ruled that one-time, nonrefundable amenity fees are illegal in the state, according to The Business Journals.
A couple in Reading, Mass., apparently took issue with Archstone’s $475 fee for the use of a pool, gym and outdoor grill. U.S. District Court Judge William Young ruled in their favor finding that Archstone’s fees violated state law. The judge says in Massachusetts, apartment owners can only charge tenants for first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, and a key installation fee. The case was approved for class action status, meaning that Archstone could be responsible for refunds to many tenants. A trial to determine those damages is expected for June.
For other landlords in the state charging these fees, this is a clear signal to stop (and, if you’re in another state, it’s a sign you may want to inspect how laws govern fees). But it also could be taken as a cautionary tale, as well. In an environment where apartment owners have seemingly been able to raise rents at will over the last couple of years, this is proof that tenants will fight back and do have a threshold.