TenantNet Forum

Where tenants can seek help and help others



Landlord withholding Security deposit

Issues unrelated to specific categories below

Moderator: TenantNet

Landlord withholding Security deposit

Postby kiduek11 » Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:20 am

To briefly explain my situation in chronological order,

I decided to rent this apartment in UWS, put up a temporary wall in the living room to live with my roommates. I asked my broker to confirm with the management about the wall and broker verbally told me, walls are okay as long as no damage. So I rented the place and put up a temporary wall which I removed when I moved out.

When I moved out, I wasn't able to do an inspection with my landlord because they didn't give me any instructions regarding the move out until the day before. I moved out and was waiting to hear back from the landlord regarding my deposit. After waiting for more than a month, I contacted the landlord who told me that all my deposit cannot be returned because they had to renovate the whole apartment. They said bathroom, wall, floor, and everything had to be redone, but the biggest reason was that I had a wall that was not allowed. I am pretty sure that the temporary wall didn't make any permanent damages to the apartment. Also, I am pretty sure what they call "damages" to bathroom, floor, and etc are reasonable wear and tear.

I feel I am being unfairly charged in this situation, at least I feel the apartment didn't need to be completely renovated. What should I do in this situation?
kiduek11
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:01 am

Re: Landlord withholding Security deposit

Postby TenantNet » Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:40 am

One problem I see is that you used the broker to contact the landlord.

You don't say what kind of wall it was. First, it might have been illegal and violated fire laws regarding egress. But there are a variety of walls with various impact on the existing walls. It depends.

But you're probably right about damages to the rest of the unit. This is why you should have had a walk through, along with a witness. Did you ask the LL and they refused or not give you a time? Did you have a witness? Did you take copious photographs? Did the LL give you a list of damages, and a list of expenditures made to cover those damages?

This is a good reason why we see many tenants withhold the last month's rent - LL shenanigans. While the deposit should be reserved for legitimate and provable damages, many LL's just invent damages or try to claim items like needed painting was due to damages.

You have two options. Go to the Attorney General's office, or go to Small Claims Court.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9238
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Re: Landlord withholding Security deposit

Postby kiduek11 » Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:09 am

The wall is just, pressurized temporary walls built by one of the companies that come up when you google pressurized temporary wall. That wall was used to close off a section in the living room to create a room. I had the company come back in and remove it.
I am pretty sure LL knew about the existence of the wall because they came into my unit multiple times and didn't say anything to me.

The walkthrough did not happen because I called LL the day before the move out to ask instructions on leaving my keys. Then LL told me that they called my roommates or someone in my unit to set up a walkthrough appointment before 5pm tomorrow. But, the mystery here is that I am the only person on lease and have been the only person who has been communicating with LL, so it is still a mystery who they talked to. Anyways, so I wasn't able to set up an appointment with the LL on such a short notice.

I myself don't have photos but LL showed me a photo of the wall and bathroom. To my eyes, from what I see i the photo, the wall could've been just repainted, not renovated. and bathroom just has some water scuff. No broken tiles or anything.

LL was not very detailed about the damages. All I got from them was a final ledger with one single line - walls, floors, bathroom, fridge, and etc - my deposit.
They say it takes them several months to get the list of expenditures, and just goes MIA.

what is the difference between attorney General's office and small claims court? I know that for these kinds of disputes, people usually go to small claims court. How different is attorney General's office?
kiduek11
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:01 am

Re: Landlord withholding Security deposit

Postby TenantNet » Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:25 am

From what I've seen pressurized walls are generally OK in that they are not permanent attachments and should cause no damage. However I do not know if they satisfy the fire codes. The latter point is not relevant to the issue of deposit, but in the future tenants should check to see if what they have done compromises the need for egress - and the need to emergency fire personnel to access the unit (see the article on this forum about the firefighters who died when they encountered an illegal wall.).

On leaving keys, you leave them with the actual landlord, in person and get a receipt. Do not give them a a super or worker. Otherwise you mgiht be opening yourself up to a lawsuit.

I understand it was short notice, and the LL as most likely lying, but that gives the LL the opportunity to play these games. Simple solution would be to hold the keys until the LL can walk though.

When leaving a unit, always take many photos - close-ups as well. Also good to take photos when you move in to show beginning conditions on the apartment. To not have photos gives the LL his opportunity.

Painting is not something to be covered by a deposit. The damage must be more than average wear and tear. Ask the LL for a list of specific damages and an itemized list of expenditures. The one-line ledger is not sufficient.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9238
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Re: Landlord withholding Security deposit

Postby kiduek11 » Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:42 am

So if I do plan to go to small claims court or attorney general, I should first get my hands on the itemized list of expenditures first before I submit my paperwork and all the relevant documents before I file the case? From my past experience of communicating with the LL, it looks like it will take several months to even get them to give me the relevant documents.
kiduek11
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:01 am

Re: Landlord withholding Security deposit

Postby TenantNet » Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:05 am

The point is that the LL most likely will not give you an itemized list, or give you a fake one. You can use the lack of meaningful documentation in support of your case.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9238
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City


Return to NYC General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests