U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel this week dealt a blow to apartment giant Equity Residential, ruling that the upfront, nonrefundable fees it has charged Massachusetts apartment residents -- including "amenity," "move-in," application, and pet fees -- are illegal because they violate the state's security deposit law. David Pastor, a Boston attorney representing three former Equity residents, remarked, "The judge found . . . the security deposit statute limits to certain enumerated charges what the landlord can charge [before or] at the commencement of the tenancy, and those are first month's rent, last month's rent, a security deposit, and a charge for a lock and key installation."
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