How to get an NY landlord to pay what they owe?
August 22, 2013 4:40 PM Subscribe
After nearly two years of us complaining, our old New York landlord sent us a check for our security deposit. (It was more than $2k.) Surprise, it bounced. What next?
posted by feets to work & money (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Our property manager said he would send the security deposit but didn't, despite repeated calls, emails, a certified letter (which was returned unopened), and the efforts of the NY Attorney General.
More than a year and a half later, my spouse wrote an email to the property manager and SURPRISE, he mailed us a check, and SURPRISE, it bounced. He apologized, said he'd send a money order, and has now gone incommunicado. We re-submitted the check and it bounced a second time. I have trouble understanding the property manager's behavior. Why send us a check at all if they never intended to pay us? Is the landlord in on the scam, or is it that the property manager is a big flake? And what can we do next?
--Small claims? It seems like it would be easier to get a judgement since we received the bounced check (and the apology email claiming a money order was en route). Difficulty: we no longer live near NY. It would cost $500 and a few days off work to get one of us to NY and back, and I've read that NY landlords often attempt to "postpone" small claims the day of the court case, in an effort to get people to give up.
--Just filing small claims without intending to go?
--Social ruckus? So far all our communications (except one) have been with the property manager, who is also the signee on the twice-bounced check, but we also have the landlord's name and email address, and I could contact the broker who got us into the apartment in the first place. I am also considering making a little dossier about my experience, with the evidence of the bounced check and the Attorney General's letter, and sending it to the property manager's other tenants, so they can consider whether they want to pay the last month's rent, and so they have our Attorney General complaint's serial number in case they need to file a similar complaint themselves. Difficulty: Both I and Spouse Feets are extremely conflict-averse. Also, in my experience, New Yorkers are not always the easiest people to shame.
--Debt collector? I know you lose about a third of your money this way, and it seems strange to be a tenant hiring a debt collector, but ...? Difficulty: Loss of $600~ dollars and it seems creepy.
So my question is: What do you think would be a good course of action, and why? One of these options, or a different one that I haven't thought of? I am especially interested in personal stories of things you tried that worked (or didn't). Thanks AskMe.