How can I get my security deposit back?
August 1, 2009 8:12 PM   Subscribe

SecurityDepositFilter: Yet another NYC tenant here desperate to get his security deposit back from greedy landlord.

So I sublet a place for two months, and paid a full security deposit (the same amount that the original tenant paid to his landlord). A month after vacating the place, I still haven't been given it back. Reason? The original tenant claims that he has not received his deposit back from the landlord himself -- I had taken over his final two months.

The thing is, I never actually took over his lease; I signed a separate sub-contract just for those two months. I paid my security deposit direct to the tenant, NOT to the landlord, and the understanding (yes, I know, should have gotten it in writing) was that I'd get it back once I left.

In my two months there, I didn't touch a thing -- in fact I hardly used the gas stove. He conceded as much. My question: is what he's doing reasonable? What if the landlord finds something to pick at, and deducts his deposit -- does that mean I'll get a reduced deposit? What if the landlord never pays him? Isn't that his problem? Why should I be insurance?

More importantly, what recourse do I have? Can I take him to small claims court? What chance do I have of winning? I know YANAL, and particularly NML, so this isn't legal advice.

(Anonymous because apparently the little twerp reads metafilter.)
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (5 answers total)
Yes, of course you can take him to court. I can't say what your oral agreement says about time scheduling, but if he's supposed to have gotten his back by now (the two or three or however many weeks NY(C) gives you), then you should have, too. I'd say just treat him like a landlord for the purposes of small-claims and let a judge sort it out. That is, if he doesn't cave before then. Write a nice note detailing the law and how long you've waited. You don't have to let him shaft you just because he's getting shafted (and maybe doesn't know what to do about it).
posted by rhizome at 8:20 PM on August 1, 2009

This all depends on the text of what you signed. Whatever the section on security deposit says, that's what your judge will enforce. Small claims court sounds like a cheap and easy option to pursue here, and it'll almost certainly go in your favor.

Added bonus: the little twerp could get embarrassed in public. So you get your money back AND some bonus fun.
posted by rokusan at 8:29 PM on August 1, 2009

New York State has a rather ambiguous statement in the law regarding the default period to return a deposit, it reads: "within 30 or 60 days."

With these kinds of small potatoes, and the conflicting stories presented, judges are liable to just go with the statutory time period. Whatever that is, between 30 and 60.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:21 PM on August 1, 2009

I'd start with the attorney general's office. They got my deposit back in a situation where I joined a lease midway through. They do seem to prefer that you wait the full ambiguous 60 days before jumping in, but i think they'll still be helpful to talk to. Good luck.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:06 AM on August 2, 2009

It's pretty easy to file a small claims lawsuit. I did it and won my deposit back + court fees and interest.
posted by meta_eli at 6:12 AM on August 2, 2009

« Older Rules for a Parent in a New Relationship?   |   How to know if your luck has run out? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.