Securing your Security Deposit
Rental agreements in New York State are likely to require a security deposit in order to be eligible to lease a property. The purpose of the deposit is to ensure that the landlord is protected in cases where the tenant does damage to the property or does not make their monthly payments. Many can speak to an experience where they have not gotten part or all of their security deposit back and were not given an explanation as to why. By knowing and understanding your rights as a tenant with regard to your security deposit, you can take the necessary steps and precautions to make sure that your deposit is returned in full.
Before you move in:
- Take pictures of the property when you first move into your place to avoid paying for any damage that was there before your tenancy began.
- Deposits are to be held in individual accounts separate from the landlord’s other funds. You are entitled to know the name and address of the bank where the deposit has been made and should ask the landlord for that information when signing your lease.
- Be aware that you may be entitled to interest on your deposit. If the property you are leasing contains six or more residential units, the security deposit must be set aside at a bank in an interest-bearing account.
- Note: One percent of the interest may be retained by the landlord for administrative purposes.
- Save documentation of the security deposit payment including images of any check and your bank account statement showing the check clearing or cash being withdrawn. You should also ask your landlord to provide a receipt for the payment.
After the termination of your lease:
- Take pictures to show how you left the property upon vacating.
- Once you have moved out completely and returned the keys, the landlord must return the deposit within a reasonable time.
- If the landlord plans to deduct from your security deposit, they must provide an itemized list detailing the deductions made and provide evaluations for the cost of repairs. The landlord must notify you of this list within a reasonable amount of time after you vacated the premise.
- Unlawful retention of a security deposit may be addressed in Small Claims Court.