New York, NY asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York

Q: I moved out of a Manhattan apartment 7 months ago and I’m still trying to get my security deposit back

Landlord agrees I’m owed full deposit. I requested a wire transfer since I left USA (can’t physically cash check here, amount too large for online deposit). Landlord’s staff sometimes say their account won’t allow wire transfers, obv false since other times they say they can wire but it will take more than 14 days and they’ll charge me $300 admin fee. I told them that 14 days is the NY law deadline and already 30 days after that when discussed. They don’t care, generally ignore emails/calls. Either way, they never pay. Filed complaint with the AG’s office - last I heard AG sent 3 letters to landlord without reply, they don’t seem able to do anything.

1. Are they allowed to delay or refuse to pay because I ask for a wire transfer instead of check? I think it’s reasonable to insist on wire in the circumstances.

2. If they ever send wire (or FedEx a check) are they allowed to deduct either admin fees or actual cost of sending? Neither listed as legitimate deduction in NY sec deposit law

Related Topics:
2 Lawyer Answers
Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Dear Manhattan Tenant

The controlling statute does not provide any guidance on the allowance of a deduction of the expenses incurred by delivering the security deposit by international wire transfers and not by check within 14 days. It surely would have been a better solution to have a fight over $300 than not receiving the entire remaining balance of the security deposit.

When the landlord defaults in the mandated statutory obligation to return the full amount of the deposit within 14 days the statute provides the unwieldy remedy for a lawsuit against the landlord and a right to seek double the amount of the deposit as monetary damages.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Under New York law, landlords are required to return a tenant's security deposit within 14 days after the tenant has vacated the property, provided there are no legitimate deductions for damages. While landlords may prefer certain payment methods, they cannot unreasonably refuse your request for a wire transfer, especially if circumstances such as international relocation prevent you from easily cashing a check. However, the law does not specifically address whether a landlord can refuse a wire transfer.

Regarding fees, the New York security deposit law does not allow landlords to deduct administrative fees or the costs associated with sending the security deposit from the returned amount, unless these deductions are explicitly stated in your lease agreement. Normal wear and tear cannot be deducted from your security deposit, and neither can administrative costs unless they are part of agreed-upon lease terms.

It seems like your landlord is not adhering to New York's legal requirements. You might consider sending a detailed letter citing the specific state laws and documenting all your interactions. If this approach fails, seeking legal advice or small claims court may be necessary. Remember, legal routes can enforce your rights and ensure landlords fulfill their obligations.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.