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

Answers:

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.)


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