If my roommate walked out on our lease and took my half of the security deposit as well as an electric deposit, can I sue her for it?

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If my roommate walked out on our lease and took my half of the security deposit as well as an electric deposit, can I sue her for it?

I signed a lease and moved in with someone. I paid the previous tenant $850 for his half of the security deposit. The management company then put the security deposit in my roommate’s name in it’s entirety including my half. I paid an electricity deposit for $300 because the electric was shut off upon my arrival at the apartment (past due balance of 3 months). Then my roommate walked out and she canceled the electric bill and terminated my $300 deposit as well. Now that the lease is over she has taken my half security deposit. Is this a case I can take to small claims for $1150?

Asked on April 16, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you could sue your roommate in small claims court. If there was an agreement between the two of you as to how deposits (like the security  deposit) would be apportioned or split and she violated that agreement, you can her for breach of contract. Or if there was no agreement as to how a deposit would be split, but you paid the full amount--and so it presumably belonged to you (like the electiric deposit)--then taking it would be a form of theft, and you could sue her on that basis.


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