Housing dispute lawyer in NYC?
August 26, 2009 6:29 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a good lawyer in NYC for dealing with housing issues, specifically a dispute over a security deposit with a former landlord?

I'm currently wrangling with a former landlord who's refusing to return my (substantial) security deposit. I believe this will end up in Housing Court. I know I don't need an attorney for Housing Court, but I'd really like to have someone giving me advice and walking me through the process as well as helping me prepare and file all the necessary paperwork. I don't mind spending some money to do this, as the deposit in question was fairly large. Any recommendations?

Anonymous because I prefer not to have legal things associated with my username and Google-able by people I know.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you already know about tenant.net? It's a great resource for anyone who rents in NYC, and the regulars will very likely have some good advice and references.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:39 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Start with the Attorney General's office before going to housing court. You can fill out a rent security complaint form and send it in, and they will do the investigating for you at no charge. In addition to getting your deposit back, I think they fine or otherwise punish the landlords for not holding to the law. I found them SO helpful when I went through this a few years ago. They got my deposit back with interest (you're entitled to interest if your building has more than six units in most cases). I had been fighting with my old landlord for about four months, and within 10 days of filing the complaint with the AG, I had my deposit in hand.

(In case they don't tell you, do not pursue legal action against your landlord while you're also talking to the attorney general's office. They will stop helping you if you do.)
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:55 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can highly recommend Catherine (Cathy) Grad, (212) 732-0400. A one hour consultation will cost $250, and that may be all you need, really. She's really down to earth and easy to talk to. She also doesn't mind if you tape record your meeting (which we found helpful when we couldn't figure out our hand-written notes). Her office is on Broadway near City Hall.
posted by kimdog at 7:55 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Try Itkowitz & Harwood, they specialize in this sort of thing. They represent landlords more than tenants, but, hey, lawyers always play it both ways, and it's good that they have experience with the ways of the Other Side.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 8:14 AM on August 26, 2009


I have had to deal with this in New York City. I don't know if the substantial amount is greater than 5K, but for my part, I filed a claim in small claims court against my landlord, and studiously documented everything I did and what date I did it on, kept all receipts, signed agreements and so on. I also sent a letter to my broker informing them that I would subpoena them if I had to in regards to this matter.

The last part was actually what got this resolved prior to reaching court. The broker leaned on the landlord, I assume telling the landlord he would no longer work with him if he dragged this dispute out and made the broker appear in court. I got my money back and I could finally sleep a full night again instead of seething with rage.

That said, I wish I had known about peanut_mcgillicutty's rent security complaint form. If my security deposit had been more I might have worked with a lawyer, but for the amount I was dealing with, it just didn't seem worth it.

Good luck, and be patient. The wheels of justice turn exceptionally slow in these kinds of situations.
posted by orville sash at 8:27 AM on August 26, 2009


Agreed that you should go to the AG.

But, in addition to Cathy Grad, you could try Collins, Dobkin & Miller, LLP, (212) 587-2400; Fishman & Neil, LLP, 212-897-5840; Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph, 212-349-3000--all reputable tenant attorneys.
posted by Mavri at 9:13 AM on August 26, 2009


Not in NY...but in California, I've been screwed over by 3 landlords. 3 times I've gone through Small Claims Court. 3 times the judges have favored the tenant (me), and had the landlords pay me what I was due...and more (as they were violations with remedies...since that is something the courts were trying to stop).

So I say, pursue it in small claims court if the amount you are seeking is within the limits of NY states Small claims court.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:03 PM on August 26, 2009


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