Landlord Can't Withhold Security Deposit for Repainting
LVT Number: #31552
Former tenant sued landlord in Yonkers City Court, seeking a refund of her $2,035 security deposit. The trial court ruled for tenant in part and awarded her $1,026.
Tenant appealed and won. Landlord's witness had testified at trial that there were spackled pin holes on the walls of the apartment when tenant moved out and that he wasn't sure what the actual repainting cost was. But landlord failed to establish that the tenant had damaged the apartment beyond what was attributable to ordinary wear and tear. And landlord failed to provide the court with any proof of the cost to repaint the unit. Landlord relied on a lease clause requiring tenant to repaint the apartment prior to moving out and permitting landlord to retain $1,500 from tenant's security deposit if tenant failed to comply. But the appeals court wouldn't enforce that clause. The prior common law rule that a landlord may not retain a security deposit for costs relating to ordinary wear and tear was codified by the HSTPA as of June 14, 2019, in General Obligations Law Section 7-108. So the lease clause was unenforceable as against public policy.
Felder v. Fleet Mills, LLC: Index No. 2020-236WC, 2021 NY Slip Op 50713(U)(App. T. 2 Dept.; 7/22/21; Ruderman, PJ, Garguilo, Driscoll, JJ)