Failure to return security

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Failure to return security

We paid rent for last month but never actually moved in. We did sign a lease but we notified the landlord on the 15th but due to loss of a job, we could not move in. We did not ask for the month’s rent back as it was already the 15th but we asked for the $1175 security and $150 pet deposit. The landlord understood and agreed to return our deposits in an email. We gave the landlord cash for both the rent and the deposit but the landlord insisted that we can only get the deposit back from the bank and would notify us when it would be released. We returned the keys on the 18th and were told that we would get the check in 3-5 days. Then the landlord texted to inform me that the check was made on the19th with an expected delivery of the 28th. However, a week later, the check has still not been received. I’m thinking that we are getting the run around now and I don’t know what to do. We did sign a lease that we technically broke but the landlord never brought it up and agreed to return the deposit. We gave them the full month of rent but since we never moved in, only cleaned before we intended to move, we asked for that deposit back. Now I’m afraid they do not intend to follow through on that. Do we have a case for small claims?

Asked on October 3, 2017 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the answer to your question comes down to "we did sign a lease." Once you sign the lease, you are obligated to the full lease term, and *all* the rent due thereunder, even if something happened in your life (e.g. loss of a job) to make leasing unwise or impractical. Therefore, assuming your lease was for more than one month, you owed rent for at least one additional month--possibly for many more months (e.g. another 11, if it was a 12-month lease). Since you owed much more unpaid rent, your landlord could keep your deposit and apply it against the amount you owe.


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