Can my landlord withhold telling me of damages she claims to know exist?

I made the landlord aware that I was now in control of the house and requested a few months ago that the roommate not be involved in any further matters. The roommate was being true to the lease and paying his portion through the end of lease so I was still allowing him to make the direct payment to the landlord. The situation involves the past roommate calling the landlord and requesting part of the security deposit be used for rent. Since I am moving out at the end of this month the old roommate claimed in exchange I would leave the 25th. I was completely unaware until now. I never agreed to the arrangement. Now she claims there are “a host of damages” but is refusing to tell me what they are. Can she withhold this information and charge me after the fact out of anger? I fear there are no such damages but that she will create some upon my leaving.

Asked on June 12, 2009 under Real Estate Law, New York


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I'm not a New York attorney, but most states' laws about tenant security deposits only require a detailed accounting of damages, along with a return of unused deposit money, after the tenant moves out, with 30 days being one typical time limit.  There really is no other practical way to do this, if you think about it, since there can be damages from the moving process itself, and tenants have been known to re-arrange furniture to cover up nasty stains on the carpet, etc.

One way you can protect yourself is to take a full set of photographs of the apartment, just before you walk out the door for the last time.  And if the damages your landlord claim contradict those pictures, take them to a landlord-tenant attorney in your area.  One place to find counsel is our website,

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