Can I take a legal action against my landlord if hewrote a check for my security deposit from an account in which hehad no money?

UPDATED: Aug 11, 2011

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Can I take a legal action against my landlord if hewrote a check for my security deposit from an account in which hehad no money?

Deposit: $1125 (no legal rent agreement as it was a month-to-month PG accommodation). Return amount: $945 (there were some cuts which is fine). He used to give me slips every month for the rent I paid him. Landlord gave check for the $945. I deposited it into my bank. Bank said the issuer did not have sufficient funds in his account, as well as I was charged a $12 fee for the return transaction.

Asked on August 11, 2011 New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You could sue him to get the money, as well as for the returned check fee or other out-of-pocket costs or losses you suffered as a direct result of the bounced or returned check. The landlord has to return you money, less acceptable deductions--the fact that he had insufficient funds does not absolve him of that responsibility. He also has to pay for the direct consequences of his actions. If you sue him and win and he still doesn't pay, you may be able to garnish bank account or wages, or put a lien on his property (e.g. the building he was renting out) to recover. It is also possible that you may be able to recover additional (double) damages and possibly lawyer fees, under NJ's Security Deposit Act. Given that possibility, it would be worthwhile discussing the matter with an attorney, to see whether you could recover enough to make it worthwhile retaining a lawyer. (Otherwise, you could represent yourself in small claims court.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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