Almost every landlord in New York collects a security deposit from new tenants when they move in. The refundable payment is meant to offset any damage that might be discovered when the tenant moves out. However, some landlords keep most or all of the security deposit even when tenants don’t do any damage.
How to avoid losing a security deposit
If you’re a renter, there are a few things that you can do to prevent your security deposit from being unfairly taken. The first step is to do a walkthrough inspection with your new landlord before you officially move in. During the walkthrough, you should take notes about any damage and collect photographic evidence of it. Make sure that you and the landlord agree on these records before signing the lease.
Next, you should request the same type of walkthrough inspection to be done when you are moving out. If there is any extra cleaning required or any damaged property that was your fault, you could either agree to take care of those things or agree to pay for them.
What to do if your landlord is taking your deposit
Even if you have done everything right as a renter, there may be a situation where a landlord inexplicably takes your entire deposit. A landlord/tenant issue like this may be handled personally. In some cases, speaking to a landlord about the deposit might get them to see their mistake. If that doesn’t work, you can send a polite but firm letter demanding your deposit back. When communicating about your deposit personally or in writing doesn’t work, you may consider filing a lawsuit against your former landlord.