Tenant Gets Security Deposit Refund and Punitive Damages
LVT Number: #32051
Former rent-stabilized tenant sued landlord in small claims court seeking $2,655 in damages for failure to return her security deposit, among other things. Tenant later amended her claim to increase the amount of damages to $3,852. The tenant sought refund of her $1,328 security deposit shortly after she moved out, first through telephone contact to the landlord and by enlisting her local Assemblymember to assist with her request. Landlord neither returned the deposit nor gave tenant an itemized statement indicating the grounds for retaining any of the deposit. Landlord's representative in fact testified in court that there was no damage to the apartment when tenant moved out. This was supported by tenant's photographs. Landlord claimed that it didn't return any portion of the security deposit because tenant mistakenly insisted that the amount due was $1,743.
The court ruled for tenant, who was entitled to a security deposit refund under General Obligations Law (GOL) Section 7-103(1). GOL Section 7-108 further provides that the entire amount is refundable to tenant unless landlord provides the tenant within 14 days after tenant moves out with an itemized statement indicating the basis for any amount retained. The court found that tenant was entitled to a refund of the $1,328 security deposit plus prejudgment interest at 9 percent. The court also awarded tenant $2,656 in punitive damages.
Karole v. 340 W. End Ave., LLC: Index No. SC-016590-21/NY, 2022 NY Slip Op 50317(U)(Civ. Ct. NY; 4/6/22; Tsai, J)