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A Guide to Security Deposit Return Disputes in New York

security deposit returnA common legal issue facing landlords in New York is security deposit return. It can be difficult to know when you must return a security deposit and when you can keep it for damages, repairs, and other expenses. When dealing with legal issues such as this, contact a skilled New York landlord lawyer who can help you understand the law. Rogers & Rogers, Esq. will listen to your situation and guide you through the complex legal process involving security deposits. Call us today at (718) 994-1640 or email evan@rogersandrogersesq.com.

Understanding Security Deposit Law in New York

When renting in New York, you should be aware of the laws and administrative rules that apply to security deposits. This can help you understand the legality involving retaining funds and security deposit return. It’s helpful to understand the following:

  • All security deposits must be refundable; however, you may withhold funds for certain expenses.
  • You must keep security deposits in a separate bank account, and they must earn interest
  • You must send the tenant a written notice or receipt after you obtain a security deposit.
  • Landlords are not required to do a security deposit return if there are damages, unpaid rent, and other breaches to the lease that total the security deposit amount or more.
  • You must complete a security deposit return within a reasonable time if damages, unpaid rent, and other expenses do not total the amount of the security deposit.
  • If you sell your property to a new owner, you must transfer all security deposits to that new owner and notify tenants in writing that the funds have transferred.

These rules regarding security deposits may not apply to all locations within New York. Moreover, rent stabilized apartments may be governed by additional rules. When dealing with security deposit return and management, you should consult with an experienced landlord lawyer who can help you through the process so you don’t end up in court.

Steps to Take Before a Security Deposit Return

When a tenant moves out, there are steps you should take before returning their security deposit. These steps will help you determine how much to withhold from the security deposit, and whether the tenant owes you additional money.

Write a Move-Out Letter to the Tenant

This letter should explain to the tenant your expectations and their responsibilities. You should include information about how the apartment should be cleaned, and when you will conduct a final inspection. List all deductions that will be made from the security deposit. This includes unpaid utilities, unpaid rent, necessary repairs, and more. Remind the tenant to leave keys and provide you with a forwarding address to facilitate security deposit return.

Inspect the Rental Unit When the Tenant Moves Out

When the tenant vacates the premises, conduct an inspection to ensure they completed all cleaning and repairs. Make a list of all items the tenant failed to complete, and take pictures. You should have an inventory or checklist to help you check every area in detail.

Give the Former Tenant an Itemized Statement of Deductions

Prepare a detailed list of all items to be deducted from the security deposit return. This should include all items in the apartment that the tenant failed to clean or that they did not properly repair. Attach pictures and receipts to the inventory.

We Can Help With Security Deposit Return Disputes

If a tenant sues you for the return of their security deposit or claims that you have wrongfully withheld money from their deposit, you should immediately seek assistance from a skilled attorney. Rogers & Rogers, Esq. can help you with security deposit return issues throughout New York. Call us today at (718) 994-1640 or email evan@rogersandrogersesq.com.