A Complete Guide about the NYC Deposit Return Law and how it works?

By: Abdullah Haroon September 15, 2020

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Seasonal tenants are quite familiar with this term and its implications but if you are a first-time tenant you need to have a glance over the security deposit return law. The term is under discussion because of the recent developments in the structure of the security deposit. In 2019, New York State amended the rules for a security deposit to control the manipulation of the law.

Earlier it was the landlord’s prerogative to ask whatever amount he/she asked from a tenant. But that is no longer the case as NYC has made it mandatory for a landlord to not ask more than the amount equal to one month’s rent.

Let us dive in detail to learn the implications and impact of NYC security deposit return law.

What is a Security Deposit?

A security deposit is a certain amount of payment that comes in during the closing costs which you have to pay to the landlord. The amount used to vary from property to property but generally, it is equal to one’s month’s rent. It covers two purposes

  • It can be used to repair the damage inflicted by a tenant.
  • In case the tenant skips the last installment of rent before leaving, the security deposit can make up for that.


Note:
The law does not permit the tenant to skip the last rent to adjust it in the security deposit.

According to the Housing Stability and Tenet Protection act of 2019, the tenant is liable to submit payment as a security deposit equal to one month’s rent.

  • Where to look up for the Security Deposit Return Law?

If your landlord is not familiar with the new development in the law or you need to cite the law for any paperwork you can visit the New York State Senate’s website. Another source for reading it is the NYC attorney general’s website.

  • Security Deposit Return Law:

A security deposit is a refundable payment. When you leave the apartment, your landlords are entitled to return you the amount you deposited as security. There is no such law which could prevent the landlord to return the security deposit without convincing reasons.

There is no fixed time bracket by law during which the landlord has to return the money but usually it is considered between 20 to 40 days of your exit from the property.

Note: an additional tip is to keep pictures of the house in whatever status you left it. It would help you defuse any charges of damage imposed by the landlord.

A Security Deposit is a Tenant’s Property:

In case you did not know it, by law, the security deposit is a tenant’s property. The law prevents a landlord from missing or using the money deposited as security. According to the law, the landlord has to park the security deposit in a separate bank account. In addition to it, the landlord has to share the information about the bank in a written notice as well.

In case the landlord violates this clause and combine or use the security deposit, you are entitled to ask the immediate return of your security deposit.

Read Also: New York Rent Laws in 2020 – What Renters Need to Know?

Note: the consequence is not mentioned in law but upon suing the case, judges ask landlords to return it.

Security Deposit is your Investment for the Future:

If the landlord is renting more than five units then the landlord is supposed to earn the interest on the security deposit. You will be able to get a fair share of interests against your security deposit while the landlord is only entitled to charge an administrative fee.

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Some Tips to Claim your Maximum Security Deposit:

  • First thing first, you need to take your lease document seriously and shall give it a thorough read. It must contain all the relevant clauses and agreed terms regarding the security deposit return.
  • When the tenant has taken a final decision to leave the property, she has to send a notice to the landlord. With that notice, a meeting for inspection shall be planned with the landlord.
  • During that inspection, the landlord shall bring the damages or required repair work into the tenant’s notice. You can also take a picture while doing the inspection to stay protected. In such a case, the tenant will have time to fix the problem or do the repair work so that any fine is not cut from the security deposit.
  • Last but not the least, leave your apartment in the best shape. Given your stay in the apartment, you will be having a fair idea of where the repair work is required and what can be fixed by simple cleaning. Try and execute those tasks so that landlord has nothing to how against you to withhold your security deposit.

    Courts for Security Deposit Claims:

    The security deposit issue is handled in small courts instead of housing courts as small courts are more accessible and helpful.

When can a landlord deduct from a security deposit?

As a general rule, the landlord is not entitled to deduct any amount form the security deposit but under certain situations, she can claim it. The following are the more general reason as to when can a landlord deduct from the security deposit?

  • In case the tenant goes on skipping rents without any financial constraints.
  • If severe damage is inflicted by the tenant
  • If there remain any unpaid utility bills


The bottom line:

The new development in the law has made the whole system streamlined. Now landlords can no longer have a personal say or blackmailing to ask a dictated amount. It is certainly going to improve the tenant-landlord relation for the good.