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Landlord vs. Tenant Disputes: When You May Not Get Your Security Deposit Back

Posted by Melvin Monachan | Mar 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

Money is the root of the majority of contentious disputes between landlords and tenants. New York landlord-tenant law regulates security deposits in particular, dictating how they should be handled and referencing the rights of parties involved. The laws regarding security deposits in this state are on the stricter side in comparison to other states, so it's important to understand where you stand in an issue with your landlord.

A security deposit is a dollar amount tenants give to a landlord with intentions of covering damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear. This deposit is also used to cushion the financial damage in the event a tenant decides to break their lease without paying. In general, New York law doesn't technically restrict how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit, but there may still be caps depending on your municipality. Rent stabilized apartments, however, usually are only able to collect a maximum amount equivalent to one month's rent.

Your security deposit should be returned to you within a reasonable time frame after you surrender your rental property - which means turning over your keys to the landlord and completely vacating the premises. A “reasonable” time ultimately weighs on the discretion of a judge.

In disputes, most tenants are concerned with not receiving a security deposit in full or at all. This is due to the fact that in some circumstances landlords have legal justification to keep portions or the entirety of your security deposit. If any of the following circumstances sounds like your situation, your landlord may not be obligated to pay you back:

You broke or terminated your lease early

If you skip out on your lease, the landlord has the right to keep all or part of the security deposit to cover the costs associated with this breach.

You inflicted serious damage to the property/cleaning costs

Damage is not to be confused with normal wear and tear.

For example, let's say you hung some pictures and left nail holes in the wall or there are some loose handles attached to some cabinets. These are not a big deal on the spectrum of apartment damage and are expected to occur once someone occupies a residency.

But if your pet cat religiously used your carpet as a toilet, or you accidentally broke a window in your bathroom vanity, the security deposit might be used to cover the cost of these excessive damages, and understandably so.

You didn't pay utilities

A landlord can keep your security deposit to cover any utility bills you neglected to pay as a part of your lease.

You didn't pay your rent

New York will allow a landlord to keep your entire security deposit if you don't pay your rent on time.

For more information about what to do in your specific case, you should contact an attorney.

In the Middle of a Dispute? Contact a New York Real Estate Attorney

At the Law Offices of Melvin Monachan, we've helped numerous people tied up in complex real estate disputes overcome these issues with our expertise and knowledge. Let us help you find a solution to your real estate issues. Contact us online or give us a call at (516) 714-5763.

About the Author

Melvin Monachan

Melvin Monachan is the founder of The Law Office of Melvin Monachan, PLLC, a full service, real estate law firm representing individuals, investors and corporate entities in all aspects of real estate law. On the transactional side, Melvin represents purchasers and...

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