Give me my money back
July 20, 2014 8:28 AM   Subscribe

I moved out from a terrible landlord in North Carolina last June, and then because I was living in Chile with a postal strike/mail delays, the security deposit check had hit the 90 day void by the time it got to my bank. Now I'm back in the US and he won't give me my money back.

So I got back to NC in April and emailed the landlord for a new check. He originally didn't reply, then said his accountant was supposed to contact me, then said he was considering not giving me the money back if he wasn't legally obligated to (the contract said he had to hold the security deposit for 6 months), then said he was working on it, and now has again stopped replying to emails. What is my best course of action?
posted by crayz to Law & Government (12 answers total)
Lawyer with a demand letter, followed by small claims court, followed by attempting to enforce the judgement. Sorry, this is going to suck.
posted by arnicae at 8:29 AM on July 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

Your best bet is a lawyer.

But if the lease said six months and state law doesn't contradict that, then there you have it. To be honest, as shitty as he may have been and as nice of him as it would be for him to hold your deposit indefinitely, you being in Chile is not his problem and I might also take a dim view of a former tenant popping back on the grid after nine months demanding money I already tried to give them.
posted by cmoj at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

In some states, an uncashed check for a security deposit may escheat to the state and for that reason, could be available to you in NC's treasury department for unclaimed property/funds:

I'd check that first before retaining a lawyer. Based on how your landlord is behaving, it's still more likely that he's just tried to get out of paying you back, but it may have already escheated and he just doesn't want to tell you.
posted by nightrecordings at 9:06 AM on July 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think you're probably out of luck based on NC law, which says a landlord has to hold a deposit for you just for six months if they don't know your address:
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:08 AM on July 20, 2014

Write it off and move on. Sometimes life sucks.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:20 AM on July 20, 2014

I disagree with many of the above opinions. Not up on NC law, but I would expect that the dishonored check is actionable on its own. This isn't a deposit issue any longer. He's "given" you the deposit back. Now it's an issue of making payment on the instrument. In my opinion.
posted by uncaken at 9:35 AM on July 20, 2014 [7 favorites]

Have you been to HIS bank to see if they'll honor the check? I found a cache of uncashed checks in a shoe box when Husbunny and I got married. We went to the credit union and deposited them (they were mostly Federal and State checks) and they went through with no problem.

First stop, local bank branch check was drawn on. If that doesn't work, deposit into your account via ATM, and see what happens.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:15 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

demanding money I already tried to give them

I don't know about the law here, but accounting-wise? That deposit was never this person's money to start with, but in general, you wouldn't assume that, say, because you paid an employee with a check that was not cashed, that you didn't actually owe the wages anymore because it didn't get cashed in 90 days. Generally, you can satisfy your debt, or you can keep your money, there are very few legit ways to do both.
posted by Sequence at 12:36 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

If he merely wrote or typed the 90 day expiration, his bank will honor it anyway. Deposit that bad boy and wait for it to clear.

I am a banker. IANYB.
posted by brownrd at 1:43 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with advice to try to cash anyway. Even if it says void after 90 days, they'll often slip through. You'll just be risking a chargeback fee from your bank, so you may want to see how much that is.
posted by saffry at 3:30 PM on July 20, 2014

I closed a credit card account once after paying it off and overpaid by something like $0.30. A few years later I was going through old unopened mail and found the refund check for said $0.30 and tried to deposit it - got hit with a $15 bad check fee - the reason being that the account was closed. Being a credit card company, they probably have millions of account numbers and want to know what's going and coming from where, so as much as the $15 bad check fee sucked (it did say void after 90 or 180 days) that was kind of my fault.

However - my bank did ignore the 90 day thing and *TRY* to cash it. I imagine your landlord doesn't cycle through multiple checking accounts - meaning the account the check was written on probably still exists. They should cash the check. But - instead of depositing it at your bank, take it to the bank it is drawn on and try to just cash it there. That way he can't put a stop on the check as it would have just been converted into cash.
posted by chrisishardcore at 8:52 PM on July 20, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice. Just to clarify I actually did mail the check to my bank and it arrived at about the 91 day mark and bounced.
posted by crayz at 7:56 AM on July 21, 2014

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