What to do if my landlord is avoiding me so as not to pay back my deposit?

UPDATED: Mar 31, 2012

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What to do if my landlord is avoiding me so as not to pay back my deposit?

I gave him advanced notice about moving out. I even have him on a recording about that he’d be there on my last day moving out, yesterday, and him saying he would be there last night to give me the money once I’ve moved out. He texted me, when he knew I was at work, at 1:28 pm to tell me he’s leaving in an hour and won’t be back until Tuesday. Should I just take him to small claim’s court or not?

Asked on March 31, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A landlord can only retain a security deposit (1) to pay for damage, beyond normal wear and tear, which a tenant (or the tenant's family, friends, pets, or guests) cause; or (2) to cover any unpaid rent which the tenant left owing. If a landlord is withholding the deposit for any other reason without the tenant's consent, that is unlawful, and the tenant may sue for its return, including in small claims court. If the landlord appears to be uncooperative, you wish to initiate a lawsuit.

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