What are my rights if, upon vacating my rental, my landlord is keeping my deposit monies and asking for an additional $1,000?

I was at that apartment for 15 months (last 3 months I was a month-to-month tenant). I have 2 dogs. At lease signing a year ago, I deposited 1 month rent ($1,400) + pet security ($1000). Apartment was in great condition upon move-in. Dogs did damage to the front door (scratched the white paint off). Also, a small patch of hardwood floor in the bedroom was damaged by my bed metal springs. Bottom line: a month after I moved out, the landlord sent an envelope with pictures of “damages” (door, bedroom floor, “filthy” carpet) with price tag of $3400 without any contractor price quote. What to do?

Asked on December 17, 2010 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you disagree with the landlord's assesment of the damages and, after discussing the matter with him, he won't return what you consider an acceptable amount of the security deposit, you can the landlord for the return of the deposit. You and he will then each have the opportunity to present evidence to the court concerning both the exent of damage and the cost to repair. You can sue in small claims court, which would reduce your cost to sue substantially. Alternately, you might first speak with a landlord-tenant attorney--some jurisdictions allow you to recover additional damages and/or attorney's fees, making having a lawyer represent you worthwhile. You should also take the photos and get some quotes on what the damage might cost to repair, to prepare your evidence.

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