I just want it on paper that he stole a security deposit
April 30, 2012 5:53 AM Subscribe
Just found out that the NYC Statute of Limitations is 6 years. The roommate stole my security deposit 6.5 years ago. Is it too late?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (12 answers total)
Moved into a cheap place in Brooklyn in 2005. My roommates, friends of a friend, called me in when their friend flaked out on them as a potential tenant. About a month in, they demanded a deposit that was equal to two months' rent, to be paid to the main tenant so the previous tenant could be reimbursed for his/her security deposit. (This sounds shady, and it probably was, but from reviewing other comments on AskMeFi it sounds like this is fairly common practice in NY. However, there'd been no mention of a deposit during the moving-in talks, but once it was mentioned the main tenant was being rather aggressive about it.) I went ahead and paid it. Obviously, and stupidly, there were no leases or agreements signed.
A couple of months later, a few days after collecting the month's rent, the main tenant called from out of town to say that they wanted me to move out at the end of the month because they had another friend that they wanted to move in. So this was less than 30 days' notice. I literally just gave up, packed up my things and moved home across the country a few days later. I was struggling with depression, uncertain employment, being new to NYC and other issues. This sort of cruelty doesn't faze me as much now, but in those days I just dissolved into tears and tried to get away from the situation. I didn't speak to the roommates or leave a forwarding address, though the main tenant certainly had my phone number and my permanent address from the checks. I eventually tried calling but the line was disconnected.
It never occurred to me to go to small claims court, especially after a few years passed and I had never moved back or even visited. I thought oral rental agreements were not binding and would not hold up in court, and I just assumed that the statute was 1-2 years, as it is in California. And so I finally thought to check by state and it's 6 years in NYC.
So: I know I should let it go. The lost deposit plus the forsaken rent is a little over a grand. Not chump change, but not enough to retire on. I don't even know that I can find out where the main tenant lives - a google search revealed that he was most recently working at some chumpy little grocery store in another state, but I can't find his residential address. So, obviously, he didn't take my stolen deposit and retire either, but theft is theft. Even if he were unable or unwilling to pay judgment, it'd still be of some satisfaction if I could get one filed against him, or send out a rent security complaint form, or something.
tl;dr: Worth filing, if only for peace of mind, a small claims or rent security complaint by mail for a NYC case while living out of that state, even though years have passed?