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Can a landlord take my security deposit for unpaid rent of my roommates?

Albany, NY |

1)1 roommate's mother has failed to pay rent for the past 3 months now
2)landlord did not notify me and the other roommate of this
3)the mother says she has no money to pay for the rent
4)landlord said he's taking our deposits, he already took hers for bringing a dog without asking
5)me and the other rooommate paid our rent, no problems there
6)me and other roommate are now out $500
7)I dont have my copy of the lease, we each signed different ones, I asked him to send it to me a long time ago but he never did

Waht are my options as far as getting my $500 back? Is the landlord allowed to do this? Could we sue?

Attorney Answers 1


Dear Albany Tenant:

How many unrelated people are living in this house? A landlord is not allowed to steal the security deposit for unpaid rent, but a landlord could sue for unpaid rent. Your security deposit is YOUR money. It does not belong to the landlord and cannot be stolen from you by the landlord. The terms of the lease govern the security deposit and in New York that is usually to cover any expense incurred by the landlord after the tenancy to make repairs in the house or apartment that are caused by the tenant and are beyond ordinary wear and tear.

So who are the tenants on the lease? If you all signed the lease, you are co-tenants, not roommates. Only persons signing a lease are tenants. A tenant is allowed one roommate (and the landlord has no say in this yes or no.) A roommate has no legal relation with the landlord and does not pay rent to the landlord. The roommate pays the tenant the amount of money the tenant and roommate agreed was fair for the roommate to occupy a part of the tenant's leased premises. If the roommate does not pay the tenant, the tenant still must pay rent to the landlord. The tenant may use an eviction proceeding to evict the nonpaying roommate, or may terminate the roommate's license or "lease" or "rental agreement" and then commence a holdover proceeding to use the court process to evict the roommate.

So it sounds as though you landlord is a law unto himself, his law is illegal. You can sue him, I guess, hire an attorney, or move.

Good luck.

The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.

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There are 3 of us living in the house, the mothers of the two others signed the leases', i signed mine. So in conclusion he cannot legally take the deposit money for unpaid rent, only for repairs? or will it depend on the lease agreement? What is the best course of action? Ask for the money back because what he is doing is illegal? or sue? Either way the lease is up, and its the end of the school year so were moving out anyways

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