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Do I owe my ex the security deposit

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Do I owe my ex the security deposit

Postby Alwaysdatingjerks » Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:54 pm

Almost two years ago I rented an apartment in Queens with my then boyfriend. We had a tumultuous relationship that resulted in the decision for him to move out a year later. When he was leaving he told me I could keep the security deposit. (Verbal agreement, nothing in writing) Fast forward to 1 1/2 years later and I randomly received an email from him asking for it back. I didn't respond and received a phone call a few weeks later. I was too scared of him to remind him of what he said and simply told him I didn't have the money and I would sort something out in the future. Almost 2 years now and he's back knocking on my door for the money. I finally decided it was time to remind him of our agreement and while doing so I simply told him I didn't have the money and even if I did, why did he tell me I could keep it and now almost two years later start harassing me for it. He told me he said I could keep it because he was "stressed" and he's had time to think and reevaluate the situation and "changed his mind." I told him it wasn't my problem and that I would readdress the situation when I move out and receive it (if I do) myself. In the time that this man has vacated the premises (and long before he started asking me for the money after changing his mind) I had an option to resign. I resigned with only my name on the lease.

After thinking he had left me alone, accepting I would be in touch when I eventually move out I received a text message from my landlord with a copy of an email this man sent to him in which he stated I have yet to return any of the security deposit to him (he paid the deposit in full with a money order) and also demanding the landlord inform him immediately upon my decision to move and vacate the premises so he could find me. I immediately emailed my ex and the email exchange got ugly. I reiterated to him that I didn't have the money and that he told me I could keep it when he moved out so naturally I'm confused by the recent harassment and change of mind regarding said money. I also restated that I would readdress the situation when the landlord returns the security deposit to me. Besides creating a circular argument and making jabs at my character, putting me under mental duress not unlike that which I experience during the relationship, I'm now concerned my ex might be so calloused as to try to take me to small claims court. Does anyone have any advice? I never even said the security deposit wouldn't go to him. I just don't see how I'm responsible to return this money to him A. Right now and not when (and if) I get it back B. To someone who said I could keep it and then flippantly comes after it almost two years later and C. How I'm responsible to give someone money I'm not even sure will be returned to me before I receive it.

The way I see it, he's obviously an Indian giver. And he reliquished his right to the property when he moved out of the apartment with his name still on the lease for one year. Help. I need some advice, any so that I can reduce my stress level and go back to sleeping in peace.
Last edited by Alwaysdatingjerks on Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do I owe my ex the security deposit

Postby TenantNet » Mon Aug 15, 2016 7:26 pm

You're still in the apartment, yes? What is the nature of the lease you have with the landlord? Original or renewal? Approx. how much are we talking about ... a few hundred, many thousands of dollars?

What do you mean by "resign?" Or do you mean re-sign on a renewal lease for a new term? Was the BF's name on the original lease? Was there anything in writing to you or the LL that he was vacating?
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Re: Do I owe my ex the security deposit

Postby Alwaysdatingjerks » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:07 pm

I'm still in the apartment. I resigned a renewal lease with my name only almost 1 year ago for a 2 year lease renewal in a rent stabilized apartment. My name was also on the original lease with my ex boyfriend however, I was the only one to resign the lease renewal. The security deposit was $1700. I don't recall if there was anything in writing when he left the apartment. I don't believe I informed the landlord immediately but it was discussed a few months after the fact and I was offered a renewal.
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Re: Do I owe my ex the security deposit

Postby TenantNet » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:20 pm

Just a quick peeve on my part ... to "resign" means to a) remove oneself from a job or position, or b) to accept an unfortunate outcome. It does not mean "re-sign" or to renew something like a lease. Context is important in determining the meaning.

A lot here seems to involve a personal dispute and the rent laws are not constructed to resolve such disputes. The rent laws are between the landlord and the tenant.

However, I would think much here involves the intent of the former BF ... was it his intent to leave the premises and all rights thereto including the deposit? If so, then it's a matter of proof of intent.

One question is if the LL properly dropped his name from the lease leaving your name and transfer the deposit to your name? You might wish to find out what the LL did, when he did it and upon what basis. Did the BF tell the LL to drop his name and transfer the deposit to you? Did he do so in person or by written document? LLs are not supposed to drop a party's name from a lease without authorization (it could be seen by some as sort of equivalent to an unlawful eviction). But they do so often enough, leaving themselves open to claims by the former tenant. What if the tenant was just on vacation?

Ultimately this might involve legal action. The BF would have to commence a matter in small claims (not housing court), and it would have to be against the LL as the holder of the deposit. There is a 6 year statute of limitations, but his delay since leaving the unit can work against him.

Based on your description of events, you might see this as the BF harassing you. Of course he will have a different view. I would tell him in writing to not contact you in any way, or that if he does, you will consider legal action (like getting a restraining order). I would get legal advice before doing anything.
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Re: Do I owe my ex the security deposit

Postby Cranky Tenant » Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:44 am

If the boyfriend paid the deposit, left the apartment, and is no longer on the lease, I would think he's entitled to a refund - unless he waived it in writing. As tenant.net said, the Landlord is responsible for deposits but if he were to refund it to your ex, then you would be responsible for paying a new security deposit to the landlord - whether you have the money or not.

Perhaps you could work out some sort of payment plan with the ex that won't strain you financially. IF he left on short notice leaving you with the full rent to pay on your own then maybe you could negotiate a lower amount. Considering all the things that can happen with a Rent Stabilized apartment, such as buy-outs, it's better to clarify your rights and keep the ex completely out of the picture.
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