What can I do if I never recieved my security deposit back from when I was renting over a year ago?

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What can I do if I never recieved my security deposit back from when I was renting over a year ago?

I received an itemized checklist of deductions that were never explained with no check. I wrote a letter to company and never got any word back.

Asked on January 28, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It depends: if the security deposit was used to pay for unpaid rent (e.g. if you did not pay your last month's rent) or for damage you, your family, or guests did to the rental unit (but NOT for normal "wear and tear"--the landord cannot charge you for that), then he did not have to return money--the security deposit is there to pay for those things. However, if you were fully paid on rent and didn't do non-wear-and-tear damage, you should have had the entire deposit returned--and even if you owed the landlord some rent or for some damage, if the amount owed was less than the amount of the deposit, you should have had the balance returned. Because a failure to return a security deposit is considered a contract action (because it arises under the lease, whether it was a written or oral lease), you have 6 years to sue--that is, you're still in time to sue if you want. Suing in small claims court, pro se (or acting as your own attorney) is a good option for a missing security deposit.


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