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How do I handle a dispute with my landlord over a security deposit in New York City?

This legal question related to landlord & tenant attorneys in New York has been answered.

Location: New York  |  Law type: landlord & tenant attorneys

I recently moved out of an apartment in New York City, and my landlord is refusing to return my $2,500 security deposit. The landlord claims that there was significant damage to the apartment, but the damage was already there when I moved in. I took pictures of the apartment before I moved in, but I'm not sure if they are enough to prove my case.

What does the lease say?

The lease agreement states that the security deposit will be returned within 30 days of moving out if there is no damage to the apartment. It also states that normal wear and tear is expected and will not be deducted from the security deposit.

Have I taken any steps yet?

  • I have emailed the landlord to dispute the charges and provided the pictures I took before moving in.
  • I have also requested an itemized list of the damages and the cost to repair them.
  • I have looked into the laws in New York regarding security deposits.

What are my options?

1. Take the landlord to small claims court to recover the security deposit. - This would require going to court and could be time-consuming and expensive. 2. File a complaint with the New York State Attorney General’s Office. - This could result in an investigation into the landlord’s practices. 3. Seek mediation or alternative dispute resolution. - This could be a less adversarial way to resolve the issue.

Can you please advise on the following?

1. What are the specific laws in New York regarding security deposits? 2. How strong is my case given the pictures I took before moving in? 3. What is the process for filing a claim in small claims court in New York City? 4. Are there any other steps I should take before proceeding with legal action? 5. How can I prevent this from happening in the future?

Commonly posted questions...

A wide photo showing a well-documented, cluttered desk in a legal advisor's office, with multiple open legal books, property deeds, and a laptop displaying property boundary maps. There are measuring tapes, legal stamps, and boundary dispute case files spread out. The background shows a Phoenix, Arizona map on the wall, and a window that overlooks a suburban neighborhood with fences demarcating property lines. The image captures the complexities and tools involved in handling a boundary dispute. Why can't I evict a tenant who's cooking meth in my rental property in Albuquerque?
6 months 2 weeks ago, landlord & tenant attorneys, Albuquerque

Legal Solution

The response provided below is specific to landlord & tenant attorneys in the jurisdiction of New York. If the response is inadequate, please submit a detailed inquiry.

New York City Security Deposit Laws

The New York State security deposit law can be found in the New York State Tenant Protection Act of 2019. This law regulates the amount that can be charged for a security deposit, how it must be held, and the timeframe in which it must be returned to the tenant. Specifically, the law states that a landlord must return the security deposit within 14 days of the tenant vacating the premises, along with an itemized statement of any deductions for repairs.

Strength of Your Case

Given that you have pictures documenting the condition of the apartment before you moved in, and that you have requested an itemized list of the damages and the cost to repair them, your case appears to be strong. The pictures will serve as crucial evidence to support your claim that the damage was pre-existing.

Small Claims Court Process

Filing a claim in Small Claims Court in New York City involves the following steps:

  1. Filing a Complaint: The first step is to file a complaint with the court, detailing the amount of money you are seeking and the basis for your claim. The complaint must be filed in the county where the defendant lives or does business.
  2. Service of Process: Once the complaint is filed, the defendant must be served with a copy of the complaint and a summons to appear in court.
  3. Court Hearing: After the defendant has been served, a court hearing will be scheduled. At the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present their case, and the judge will make a decision based on the evidence presented.
  4. Collecting the Judgment: If the judge rules in your favor, you will then need to take steps to collect the judgment.

Other Steps to Consider

Before proceeding with legal action, you may want to consider the following steps:

  1. Mediation: You may want to consider mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution as a way to resolve the issue without going to court.
  2. Legal Advice: You should consult with a real estate lawyer to understand your rights and options.
  3. Documentation: Make sure you have all necessary documentation, including the lease agreement, pictures of the apartment, and any correspondence with the landlord.

Preventing Future Disputes

To prevent future disputes, consider the following steps:

  1. Document Everything: Always take pictures of the rental property before moving in and after moving out to document the condition.
  2. Get Everything in Writing: Make sure all agreements with the landlord are in writing and keep copies of all correspondence.
  3. Know Your Rights: Be familiar with the New York State security deposit laws and your rights as a tenant.


This content is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It's always recommended to consult with a local attorney about your specific situation.

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Legal question "How do I handle a dispute with my landlord over a security deposit in New York City?" has been changed 6 months 2 weeks ago. Demonstrate your legal skills and willingness to help and answer right now! Issue is related to the location of New York & area of law: landlord & tenant attorneys.
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Photo depicting the exterior of a New York City small claims court with people of various descents and genders walking in and out. One person is holding a file labeled 'Security Deposit Dispute'. There's a sense of seriousness and urgency among the individuals.
Photo depicting the exterior of a New York City small claims court with people of various descents and genders walking in and out. One person is holding a file labeled 'Security Deposit Dispute'. There's a sense of seriousness and urgency among the individuals....

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