Deposits are one of the most common reasons for landlord-tenant disputes. There is a considerable amount of money at stake, especially with New York prices, so it is understandable that neither side want to lose out.
New York law makes clear when landlords can and cannot retain deposits. Understanding this can help reduce the chance you find yourself in a court case because a tenant claims you illegally retained their deposit.
Here are the only reasons for deposit retention
.Landlords can only justify keeping a rental deposit when:
- The tenant still owes rent: The landlord should only recover the correct amount.
- The tenant still owes the landlord for utility charges: These must be charges agreed to in the original lease contract.
- Damage to the property beyond wear and tear: This could cause a great deal of debate as each side may have a different definition of what constitutes reasonable wear and tear.
- The landlord had to pay to store or move the tenant’s belongings: This might happen if the tenant cannot do it themselves because they are away when the landlord needs them out.
The landlord must break down any amounts retained
If you need to pay for a new shower head because the tenant broke the existing one or deep clean the sofa because the tenant spilled wine on it, show a copy of the receipt as evidence. You cannot just say I am withholding all your deposit or this much of it without itemizing each cost.
Getting legal help can make things simpler as a landlord. It can help you create watertight contracts and ensure you do not make mistakes when dealing with tenants that could prove costly.