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Getting back a security deposit after a release has been signed

New York, NY |

After a dispute with a landlord I was bullied/intimidated into signing a release for the apartment in which I gave up my rights to the apartment, security deposit, etc. The landlord told me verbally, though not in writing, that after they make any necessary repairs they will return the security deposit to me. They are now refusing to return the deposit. If the release was signed and in it I gave up my right to the security deposit is there now any recourse for getting it back?

Thank you all for taking the time to answer. One thing I will add is that it was a double months security deposit, and not a cheap one, the total amount coming out close to $7000. I understand that legal fees can add up, however without knowing how much the security deposit was how can you automatically say that those fees will outweigh the amount of the deposit? Even if I end up paying all of that money to the lawyer who has taken the case that is fine with me, I would rather someone else have the money than this unscrupulous and dishonest landlord. Does that effect or change anyone's answer or take on the situation? Thank you all again for the help.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Dear Tenant:

    A release is usually the final word. Whatever occurred between you and your landlord before the release is out of reach. An oral promise that contradicts the provisions of the release is not acceptable evidence in a New York court.

    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.

  2. it's not worth it. It is possible to void the written agreement if you can prove that it was signed under duress - a very steep hill to climb. The legal fees alone would be more than the security. As Mr. Smollens stated, you can not change a written agreement orally.

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  3. Is it hypothetically possible to get the deposit based on verbal modifications to a contract? Yes.

    Is it easy to do? No, and you will end up spending more in court costs than the deposit is worth.

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