New York City
Northern New Jersey
Search Better With
Shop for a Broker
Open House Planner
Saved Listings & Folders
Stats and Figures
Manhattan Condo Market Index
We moved out of our leased apt of 2 years. Landlord refuses to give us our security deposit back. Says that the apt is filthy and we did a poor paint job bringing it back to spec. We offered to go back and get it done again or hire a pro, but they said "no dice."
Fine, deduct it from the security deposit. But now, they all of a sudden say that we owe them 2 years of electricity bills. They never once asked for it in the 2 years we've lived there. Plus, we seem to recall they said it was included in the rent. Management company says it's not included in common charges.
What do we do?
How much are we talking about?
Um, you are NOT required to repaint prior to move-out unless you altered the original paint job (painted a room dark blue, for example).
You'll need to check your original lease re: the electric. It should say whether that's included or not.
Did you take photos of the apartment after you vacated? That's a good way to document the level of 'filth' or lack thereof. Reasonable wear and tear is allowed, by the way, so even if your fridge was a tad gunky and there toidy not as pristine as possible that is no cause to withhold security.
If you cannot get your former landlord to budge take your complaint to the AG's office. They love getting rental security deposits back for tenants.
^^^ THE toidy, not there toidy...
Was the tenancy established through word-of-mouth?
didnt you do a walk through when you vacated? f--k him. File a complaint through the AG. There is a specific form you file for security deposit disputes. Then go to your local council woman's office - in the UWS, I went to Gail Brewer's office and worked with Rosalba Rodriguez - these people love to take down scum landlords. Walk her through your situation, compile all the paperwork / correspondence and step by step walk through what has transpired. I had a $10k security deposit at stake and within weeks, had a pathetic letter from the landlord saying he had made an "administrative error" with my full deposit check enclosed. It was awesome and remarkably effective.
Contact an attorney
$2000 security deposit. Don't know how much electric bill is. I'm assuming $80/month x 24 months = $1920.
Well, I read through the lease. The only possible mention is that there are "added rent" items to be added each month. None of these are spelled out (water, utilities, electricity), and they never asked us for it. My guess is that he's trying to be vindictive or probably spent our deposit and wants to keep it all.
bigdude2103 - $10k deposit? Wow.
We were stupid and didn't do a walkthrough with them. I repainted 3 of the walls (yes, we painted them a darker color) and swept the place clean. But then I left and the landlord went to see the place 3 days later. We were shocked that he flipped out. No reasonable person could have looked at it and claimed anything more than $300 of "damages" A couple of scuff marks on the walls, paint job could have been more even with another coat of paint maybe. Oven wasn't wiped clean.
that's why i always keep the last month of rent. put the headache on the landlord to sue.
Before you signed the lease did you ask for clarification on the 'added rent' items? I don't know that the LL can now come back and bill you for items he neglected to bill during your lease, but I could be mistaken. How exactly is the lease worded with regard to your monthly payment obligation?
If you repainted the walls a darker color the LL could make a claim there. But most reasonable ones don't unless there is also major damage to the walls (someone adds a textured finish, for example). But I'm confused-when you say you 'repainted' three of the walls, was this in preparation for your move-out? If so, what a dark color rather than standard white/off-white?
JWL - yep, and that's when i decided to move from NYC because I realized I didn't want to buy but didn't want to keep on forking over crazy rents.
The other course of action is to take him to small claims court. Issue there is I don't have a sense for how judge view tenants vs. landlords. But I do know when I went to the AGs office and my local council woman, they were all heavily sided on my favor, but I was also meticulous in documenting every single step with letters of correpondence, etc. attached.
Same thinkg happened to me. I had a pretty hefty deposit and buddy was just being a little slow. Just write a very stern letter, send it by registered mail and he'll think that you are setting the stage for litigation. Do you have a copy of your lease? Paying hydro is pretty standard, but your lease will dictate. If it is silent, he can't foist on you.
I think the main issue sounds like the electricity bill dispute. I don't think it is usually included with rent. The painted walls can be fixed easily, but 2 years of electricity bills will add up. $80 is on the low end and up to $200 or more in the summer.
Should renters always do a final walk-through with a landlord before vacating?
Maybe it should be video taped as well (to prove the LL was not raising issues)
about 18 hours ago
Member since: May 2009
that's why i always keep the last month of rent. put the headache on the landlord to sue.
do you "always" get sued for breach of contract? have you been black listed yet?
It seems to me that the electricity bills are bogus. If the topic was not raised in 2 years, it's merely a ruse now. They may well be trying to F you & you shouldn't let that happen. Good luck & let us know what happens.
different threads, but within 1 minute
34 minutes ago
33 minutes ago
Didn't you have a separate account with a utility for your electricity? Such as ConEd? There are a few buildings where it is inclued in the rent or common charges or maintenance (Tudor City, for example), but it's rare.The fact that you weren't billed raises a red flag that this is just a last-minute vindictive act by LL so that you'll walk away from claiming the security deposit. I think consulting wtih the AG's office is a great idea, seeing as others succeeded going that route. They should be able to "rule" on these electricity charges too, whether the "added rent items" could include electricity.
8731 Posts harassment of cc.
no need to keep track.
Could you just imagine if all those posts were about re and you actually had some insight?
That would be (F'in)amazing.
I'm still holding out hope that this just might happen.
about 4 hours ago
Member since: Nov 2010
ignore this person
different threads, but within 1 minute
34 minutes ago
33 minutes ago
I guess lacking family, friends, career, exercise, etc you've got to have something to occupy your time. but you really are about as much of a hopeless loser as there is.
JWL2672, just let it go. You are probably still ahead given the electric bill and the additional cost to fix the paint job.
If you say that "No reasonable person could have looked at it and claimed anything more than $300 of "damages"" then it is admission by you that there are some damages and then it now becomes a matter of dispute over what the cost of the damage is (you say 300, LL says 2,000).
I have rented a few apartments in the city and never once had a dime taken off my security deposit for 'damages' - I have always left an apartment in the condition I found it and no landlord has been dissatisfied and attempted withholding part of my deposit. So that makes me suspect that very likely you did leave some damages and maybe the landlord does have a point (though we can dispute the amount).
What are these damages you left behind?
A landlord should expect normal wear and tear, and that's yet another reason that little real estate investors miscalculate their huge rewards (or minimize their expectations of loss) from their condo purchases.
>If you say that "No reasonable person could have looked at it and claimed anything more than $300 of "damages"" then it is admission by you that there are some damages
Matsui, you are very against tenants, yet you claim not to be a broker. What's the story?
>I have rented a few apartments in the city and never once had a dime taken off my security deposit for 'damages' - I have always left an apartment in the condition I found it and no landlord has been dissatisfied and attempted withholding part of my deposit. So that makes me suspect that very likely you did leave some damages and maybe the landlord does have a point (though we can dispute the amount).
Really, you are suspect? You are a foreigner with foreign points of view and foreign values.
Damages as in scuffed walls, 3 walls being repainted back to white, but can be argued that it does not match the other walls' shade of white. Oven not cleaned. This stuff can all be added to a bill of $300 or so. Some landlords think their apartments are their children and want you to return it in showroom shine. I don't remember the condition they turned it over to us in 2 years ago.
I'm leaning towards your interpretation on the electric bill. I seem to recall pretty well that the landlord said electric was included in the rent. And the fact that they didn't bring it up once during the entire 2 years confirms that. Looks like they're bringing it up now just to screw us out of a security deposit.
I have no doubt that these "receipts" they're supposed to provide us on fixing up their apartment will be sky-high quotes from shady contractors. Such a pain, I really wish we had not paid that last month of rent. Let them deal with pursuing me instead of the other way around.
I think once you agree there is damage then it is difficult to fight whatever costs landlord once to claim which is why my approach has always been to leave an apartment the same way I met it with before and after pictures as appropriate. Also must do a walkthorugh and at least agree on damage. One of my landlords was notorious for witholding deposits for any reason and if you left say some personal property in apartment would charge you 100 dollars for disposal, if there was a hook left on wall another 100 to remove it and smooth out wall etc etc. Then it adds up and they hold the deposit. It is a real pain, and a ridiculous one too, but landlords have the upperhand. Obviously not much you can do now other than ask for the receipts for the repairs.
>I think once you agree there is damage then it is difficult to fight whatever costs landlord once to claim
I don't agree with this point of view - I am a landlord myself for an apartment on the UES and I would never hold a security deposit unless there was significant damage, not for embedded nails, or hooks, or even perhaps holes from tv mounts. NYC is very tenant-friendly and the AG's office is almost always on the side of the tenant.
That said, I think every honest person who intends to leave their apartment in good condition should skip the last month's rent to avoid the headache of chasing down scummy landlords for security deposits. Most of these landlords are deadbeats who probably already spent your security deposit as their own cash - to get them to cough up the money is as difficult as getting them to pay a debt.
Not sure it is correct to say most landlords have spent your security deposit. The landlord in question (that finds any excuse to withold some deposit) keeps all tentants deposits in ESCROW so definitely has not spent it. It is a big firm that owns several buildings but yet tries to get every penny out of tenants. Only small time landlords would (or can within the law) spent your deposit.
I dont think advice to withold one's rent is a good one to give. You still owe that regardless of the deposit.
Ottawa: please don't say "hydro" bills - that's pretty FOB behavior.
Matsui while landlords are supposed to keep it in separate accounts since it is not their money, we are talking really about what happens after the lease ends. They are supposed to return back the security deposit less any "legitimate" charges.
I do agree though that withholding rent is not a great strategy either as you will always lose as there was no reason to withhold the rent. Plus if they then document all the damages you will wind up owing everything anyway.
JWL define an honest person for me. And just because you are a nice landlord does not mean that a landlord should be responsible for work that has to be done because of a tenant. Sure they are going to paint the walls, but it does not mean they should have to pay to repair for the holes. Or think about if you moved into an apartment for a year that was just painted. The landlord is under no obligation to paint between tenants, however if you leave holes and hooks he then has to do work. I am on no ones side here, however there has to be some balance between stating you had no damage to I had damage and do not like how much the landlord charged.
nyc10023: got me, eh? lol
Well, it's better than your dick being a total landlord.
The Testicals left hair stuck on the walls.
Mrs. Navel left lint in the dryer.
Mr. Buttocks just left and assumed another identity.
not to be discouraging, but I've actually never heard of ANYONE just "gettng back their security" without issue. it's really f*cked up but it does seem like this is pretty much normal behavior for NYC landlords.
Does "FOB" stand for "Canadian Film Board"?
glamma, oddly enough we got ours back without a problem, and we had painted dark colors, had done some serious damage to the floors, and had drill holes where we had put in extra kitchen cabinets. We didn't pay our last month's rent (it was quite a bit less than the deposit, as our rent had decreased significantly). PCV did make a sound, and within a month gave us back our deposit only minus the last month's rent. i was shocked.
Hi AR, wow well I guess it is true that stuy town/PCV is one of the last bastions of cvility in NYC! Or, maybe just massive holes on the admin side? Lol
>>not to be discouraging, but I've actually never heard of ANYONE just "gettng back their security" without issue. it's really f*cked up but it does seem like this is pretty much normal behavior for NYC landlords.<<
We got ours back promptly and without issue.
I do the same for my tenants.
I've gotten my entire deposit back nearly always without issue. The only time there was an issue, it was due to timing (2 months) because LL was a bit of a deadbeat w.r.t. cash-flow & living month-to-month. Nothing malicious, just clueless w.r.t. segratation of the deposit.
This is really interesting to hear. Totally changing my perception. I'd be curious to know what the statistics are. 50/50? I've heard so many horror stories. Back in college I worked for a high-end realtor and they NEVER gave the security back until legal action was threatened.
You actually signed a lease that left you exposed to something as open-ended as "added rent items". You deserve to have this headache right now of chasing down your security deposit...
By the way, the "scuff marks" on the wall are typically viewed as normal wear and tear, not damage. Now if your dog ate the drywall, as a friend of mine's did, THAT'S damage...
>You actually signed a lease that left you exposed to something as open-ended as "added rent items". You deserve to have this headache right now of chasing down your security deposit...
They deserve it because they aren't shrewd real estate lawyers?
I agree with hb here. I have yet to sign a rental lease that doesn't have terms that are legally unenforceable, and we are talking large landlords. There's little room in NYC for such negotiation. If you want to rent you sign, unless you are negotiating with individuals.
I think any judge will not define "added rents" as electricity given that it was never asked for in the two years the lease was in place. If landlord had asked for it each month, that's a different story. By not asking for it, electricity is not part of this "added rent" category.
Also, as Huntersburg and Aboutready mentioned, most of the time, the management company requires landlords and tenants to use their standard lease agreement. All of them contain these clauses that are unfavorable to the tenant. Have no choice but to sign.
jwl what did you do in the end?
Still unresolved. I filed a complaint this week with the Attorney General of NY. They have a special form letter and department for this - that's how bad some landlords are. I don't know exactly how much the AG will help. If nothing comes of it, I can only file in small claims court, which I plan on doing.
I got my full deposit back from Macklowe -where I was able to keep up my custom shades. I got it back from Ogden Capital Properties as well. At Rivergate they deducted crap I couldn't believe. I got all of it back eventually but 200. They lied. I had to take down all the custom shades which was absurd - I knew that though and tried to sell them prior to moving. Lost most of my money for those but didn't lose any deposit for that. They charged me for dirt and had my husband come back and scrub the floor, pick up dust etc. It was so insane and insulting. I wrote to their lawyers with a list of grievances I had from living there including the elevator closing on my 3 yo and they took it off but they still debased him. It was ugly.
So there are good companies as bad and I can't put every landlord into the same category given my experience.
Was it for painted wall? Missing duplicate set of keys? Rivergate hit me for a small amount on a non white painted wall. They tried to deduct for not returning 2 sets of keys but I argued I only received one set and never signed a receipt for 2 sets, it was something they implemented after I moved in (lived there 6 years)
Sammy was a great super but no the most diligent.
And they sent me a check 45 days later less the wall fee (I think $150 dollars). It was the one exchange with their office(s) that I had go relatively smooth.
THeir communication and follow up is generally atrocious.
At least you're dealing with corporations. I'm dealing with one dude and his wife who tried to talk all ghetto-like, attempting to intimidate us into forgoing our deposit. Can't reason with these people.
Ghetto-like talk, FLMAOZ.
Help a newbie out: what does this "FLMAOZ" and "FLMAOZZ" thing mean? I know the middle part, but what about the F and the Zs?
The F means just that ~ F*ck. I think the Z is just a Snoop Dogg ghetto thing.
the ZZ refers to snoring, implying that, despite the hilarity of the situation or comment referred to, the whole matter is, in essence, somewhat boring.
envision a laughing narcoleptic.
Go to small claims court
I'm trying to avoid that as much as I can. Major hassle. Even if you win, good luck tracking down their finances and having the sheriff collect it. I don't understand why the court systems do not immediately require the plaintiff who loses to write a check on the spot. Or barring that, to put a lien immediately on his assets. What is the point of winning a claim if it is that difficult to collect?
I have a relative who is a real estate agent who sued a client. She had shown a property to this person who signed an agreement acknowledging they will not rent without paying commission. The client had her cousin rent the place, bypassing the agent and not paying commission. Relative sued in court and won. 3 years later, no money. The guy hid all his bank accounts and it's been almost impossible to track them down. The US court system is built for the cheaters in this country who hide, lie, cheat, and steal. Burden of proof, collection is always on the victims.
JWL, you have to choose on streeteasy, are you pro tenant, or pro landlord, or pro broker? Your story about your relative who is a real estate agent who sued because a third party rented an apartment doesn't make you a sympathetic party.
Besides, hid all bank accounts? You have to be an incompetent idiot not to be able to do a skiptrace.
I'm pro-justice. Being a landlord myself, I treat my tenants with total respect and am the opposite of a slum lord, going so far as improving things without being asked. However, as a tenant, when some dipshit refuses to return my deposit without so much as providing any sort of receipt showing the costs of "restoring" their apt, they deserve to be sued.
Also, I think real estate agents are dinosaurs, but when one enlists their services and tries to skip payment, I have a problem with that.
"I don't understand why the court systems do not immediately require the plaintiff who loses to write a check on the spot."
Because rulings are very rarely made on the spot. The judge or arbitrator usually deliberates and mails out his decision within the next following days.
That's exactly right. The small claims court judge goes home, talks over the lost shirt at the dry cleaner with his or her spouse, checks some precedents on prior lost shirts, next morning consults with other colleagues who have dealt with lost shirts at the dry cleaners, and then comes to a preliminary conclusion and talks it over with his or her law clerk before coming to a conclusion.
OR: the court mails the decision later, but not because the judge didn't figure it out halfway through the interrogative.
To update this board:
Filed complaint with Attorney General's office. They're manned by incompetents. They contacted the wrong party and also wrote some nonsense in the letter about rent control laws (our apt is not rent-controlled and the right party to contact is the actual landlord, not the building's condo mgmt company). They stated that they tried calling the landlord twice and received no response. Apparently, this is the extent of their efforts. It's a voluntary service and when the landlord doesn't respond, they can't do anything at all. They added that if this had been a corporation with a repeat series of
offenses, they'd get involved but if it's an individual owner, they can't do anything.
At this point, it seems like the only thing I can do is file in small claims. Is this even worth it to get $1800 back? It costs $35 to file, not to mention the time to go to court, gather all our evidence, pursue the money even if we win. And then there's the risk the scumbag can counter-sue for alleged non-payments of electric bills (for 2 years they never asked for it and they said it was included at the start of the lease) and exaggerated damages to the apt.
$35 to file and a couple hours in the evening.
Unless you're Alan Dershowitz, charging $1000/hour, seems to me that netting $1765 would be pretty good for two hours' work.
Sometimes we have to accept what life deals us and move on. You can certainly sue, but ask yourself if it is worth the hassle. You are also assuming that you are certainly right in the eyes of the law, and that the court will grant you the whole 1,800 as opposed to a lesser sum.
Oh Matsui, Americans love drama, we love the courtroom, Law and Order, Night Court, Judge Judy, Divorce Court, Nancy Grace, OJ trial, etc., why deprive yourself of the opportunity to sue in Small Claims Court - you might even feel like Perry Mason.
sue him -it's not about the money it's about the principal
I'm not sure whether any landlord-tenant matters can be brought in small claims court, but if so:
1. file your small claims case in Harlem night court. Likely default judgment when LL no-shows. That advice assumes the apartment and/or LL is in New York; otherwise you're stuck with the appropriate borough small claims court.
2. Get LL's bank routing info from your cancelled rent checks. That makes it much easier for sheriff to suck the money out of the account without a lot of unpleasant banter and the like.
>I'm not sure whether any landlord-tenant matters can be brought in small claims court
If you are only seeking money damages, then yes.
Jazzman - of course it is is about money - that is the whole point of a small claims court, and indeed this whole thread. If you are interested in principle then you hire a lawyer and sue for damages in a 'real' court.
>If you are interested in principle then you hire a lawyer and sue for damages in a 'real' court.
Is that how you think it works?
Like this guy?: http://streeteasy.com/nyc/talk/discussion/33006-f-coops
Harlem, you've been posting frequently on a variety of issues since you joined in September. And always nice brief posts. Welcome to streeteasy. Welcome.