Dear can we dispute?
I am an attorney licensed in New York. I do not practice law in New Jersey.
You may dispute. You should review your lease regarding a right if any of by the landlord to dip into the security deposit for any purpose other than for damage to the rental unit beyond ordinary wear and tear.
Read more about a tenant's right to a security deposit return here:
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.
Generally, in residential situations, tenant security deposits should be held by landlords in escrow accounts; meaning the tenant retains legal possession even though the landlord has actual possession of the funds. The money should only become the possession of the landlord if needed to pay for damages to the premises caused by the tenant. A thorough review of your lease would be in order, as well.
Something to consider: in your question you acknowledge your responsibility to pay the water utility bill. Even assuming your landlord deducted only the amount owed for the water bill, you may nonetheless be entitled to damages because your landlord used your property (the money in escrow) to pay the bills.
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As you had already moved out, I trust that the landlord provided an accounting of the water bills, and complied with the provisions of the security deposit act before deducting the bill. The bill itself would seem to be a legitimate expense if it had remained unpaid throughout your tenancy, but I don't know why he refused to provide you with copies of the bills. You may want to discuss this with a lawyer to see if the landlord complied with the provisions concerning return of security deposits.
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