Last month's rent

I know that generally, a tenant should not use the security deposit as the last month’s rent. It’s really meant as a means of making sure that the renters return the apartment in decent shape.

However, I find myself in a situation where I’m seriously considering using the SD as the last month’s rent. The reason, very simply, is because I have a very real fear that when I move out, I may never see the SD again.

My landlord does not live in the country. They live halfway around the world. They moved there about a year ago. We currently send the rent check to a relative here in Brooklyn. The landlord has constant financial problems. We have been waiting to get windows replaced in our apartment for over two years now. It’s still not done, presumably, due to their financial situation. They were in litigation over home repairs here (don’t know what the final status of that is) and I hear they are likewise involved with the court system over finances in their new home.

I highly doubt that my deposit is sitting in an escrow account somewhere. I was never expecting it to be returned with interest; simply having it returned was my intention all along. Therefore, I don’t care if he simply whips out his checkbook when we move and gives us a personal check for the SD (assuming, of course, that it doesn’t bounce).

However, considering the fact that this family has had some financial difficulties (including litigation in two countries) for a while now; and the fact that I probably would find suing them for the SD difficult (if not impossible) due to their present location; would I be justified in using the SD as the last month’s rent (of course, offering to write an additional check for repairs that need taking care of after we leave, if they would have been deducted from the SD to begin with)?

Zev Steinhardt

Has anyone ever gotten their SD back? I remember living in a really crappy house back in college, so crappy that it was torn down the day after we moved out. Never got a penny of that SD back.

I got it back at my last apartment. But there the LL was a great guy, and I knew where to get a hold of him if I had to take him to small claims court. This time around, it’s a potential problem.

Zev Steinhardt

Legally your idea is unsupportable. Ethically I have no problem with it.

As far as writing a check for repairs, my suggestion would be not to offer to do this. Your landlord or his representative is (if your lease is like mine) required to provide you with an itemized list of repairs and there is probably a statutory time limit for that to be presented to you. If he fails to present you with that list of repairs, you bear no legal or ethical responsibility for them IMHO.

As always IANAL etc.

I’ve always gotten my deposit back (except the one time I did leave the apartment a wreck), although one landlord and roommate I had to sue to get it. I’ve been quite fortunate in getting a series of good landlords.

You may find the information here helpful. I don’t know much about NY landlord-tenant law; in Massachusetts, if the landlord doesn’t give you the bank info about where he’s storing your security deposit and pay you the interest every year, you can usually get the whole deposit back immediately.

Definitely check the NY law first. And who knows? You might even get him to agree to it, if he knows you’re not a slimebucket.

My former landlord just did, and I already know he’s a slimebucket (I’ve even written a couple of threads about him). On the other hand, I’m waiting for a certified letter to be redelivered, and I have a hunch it’s from him, so maybe my advice is less than worthless. He’s lied before, so it’s entirely possible he will lie about the security deposit agreement. Of course, if he does, I will haul his ass to court over his landlord/tenant ordinance violations, for which he potentially ownes me a couple grand in penalties (for failure to pay interest on my security deposit, as required under the Chicago ordinance; the penalty is 2X the deposit!).

Moral of the story: if you’re going to jerk around one of your tenants, don’t jerk around the one who a) speaks Spanish and therefore knows that you lied to all the other non-English-speaking tenants in the building about whether they were the only ones with cockroach problems, and b) the one who does legal writing for a living.

The letter I wrote his lawyer (after he had the lawyer threaten me with eviction proceedings after I refused to hire an exterminator at my own expense, although the law clearly states this is the landlord’s responsibility) is rather confrontational, because my situation was rather confrontational. I’d be happy to e-mail it to you, though, if you think it will help.

Good luck, and you might also try talking to a local tenants’ orgaization for ideas.

We did this twice. However, in both cases we had lived there at least five years, the landlord either lived on the premises or was also the manager, and we had at least cordial personal relationships with them. In one case we had also made some improvements (built-in shelves) which we left when we moved.