For many renters, a security deposit is a big deal. In most rental situations in New York, the security deposit on an apartment will be the equivalent of one month’s rent. This is standard on most lease agreements. The security deposit is designed to protect the landlord should the tenant damage the premises during the time of the lease.
If there is no damage to the unit, the full security deposit should be returned to the tenant after the end of their rental. As a tenant, you should not have to ask for this return and it should be completed in a reasonable time.
A landlord is entitled to deduct the cost of repairs from the security deposit. This can lead to disputes if the landlord makes such deductions and a tenant claims they left the unit in undamaged condition.
Because a landlord could claim they made repairs, one way a tenant can protect their security deposit is to make a careful photographic survey of the unit immediately prior to their moving out.
Another important element of the security deposit is that landlords must hold these funds in trust for their tenants. If they have more than six units, the deposits must be held in an interest-bearing bank account.
Landlords are allowed a one percent administrative fee on the deposits, but if they earn any additional interest, it is the tenant’s property and may be paid to the tenant annually, at the end of the lease, or in the form of a reduction in the rent.
Source: ag.ny.gov, “Tenants’ Rights Guide,” New York Attorney General’s Office, page visited April 2016