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Rent security dispute?

NYC Housing Court Practice/Procedures

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Rent security dispute?

Postby miskatonic » Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:39 am

I moved out of an apartment in February. I was paid up on rent, terminated the lease with the consent of the landlord, and the apartment passed the landlord's inspection (no damage). However, it's six months later and the landlord is refusing to return my deposit. The last time I spoke to him, after telling me several times that it was in the mail (when it was not), he finally said he would not return it without being forced to do so.

So what's the next step? Is housing court what I want, or maybe small claims? Is there some other agency I can file a complaint with? As there isn't any question of unpaid rent or damage to the apartment, is there some way I can just have the deposit collected by some city official?

Also, if you can recommend an inexpensive but competent lawyer who can help me out in this situation, that advice would be welcome as well.
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Postby Annakicia » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:53 am

Sue him in Small Claims Court. You don't need a Lawyer! :!: Take all the documents with you to court. It's easy and fast and you will get your money since your Landlord is breaking the Law! :idea:
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Postby concord » Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:10 am

You are additionally entitled to receive the regular bank interest accrued on your security deposit while it is in the possession of the landlord. The landlord is entitled to deduct a 1% administrative fee (from the deposit or the interest; there is a DHCR Fact Sheet that elaborates upon this topic).

So, you need to get some documentation from any bank in NYC that shows the annual interest rates paid throughout the years in which the landlord held your deposit. You must then calculate the interest earned up to the date of the trial and then present (a copy of) the whole package to the judge. (The judge shall keep this copy of your presentation.)

I would ask for punitive damages because the landlord is clearly refusing to give you your money and he is putting you through an unnecessary hassle. Send the landlord a certified letter basically saying the following:

“I have been asking you for the return of my security deposit plus interest accrued since I moved out and you are refusing to reimburse me. On this date …, you told me to take you to court for it. Mail my security deposit plus the accrued interest to this address by certified mail within two weeks. You can deduct the certified mailing fee from my reimbursement. If you do not comply then I shall seek this reimbursement in court and I shall additionally seek punitive damages.”

If the landlord does not reimburse you by check within two weeks then file the claim in court. I would ask for $1000 in punitive damages. I am unaware of any case law indicating that you shall receive punitive damages but it couldn’t hurt to throw it into your claim. The worst thing that can happen is that the judge simply orders that you only receive the deposit plus interest but not the punitive award. There is no downside in seeking punitive damages here. The judge may be sympathetic and may award you the $1000 extra or a portion of it for your hassle.

Upon the trial, bring all paperwork to court; copies of: certified letter to landlord, certified receipt - signature confirmation, bank interest rate chart, security deposit receipt, everything…

In the future you may wish to pose such general inquiries in the ‘NYC General Discussion’ forum of this website where you will get more notice. I think that the ‘Housing Court – NYC’ forum is meant for questions geared more toward courtroom technicalities or court procedural questions.
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Postby TenantNet » Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:28 am

Concord, what court is going to hear this case?
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