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What constitutes a landlord-tenant relationship?

New York, NY |

Is it considered such if I sublet an apartment for two weeks with a short signed statement of subleasing?

I paid a security deposit for the sublet, but a month after I moved out, the subletter refuses to return the deposit nor provide any proof/receipts for repairs that she has done. She claims that we do not have a landlord-tenant relationship and that she does not owe me any accounting of my deposit. I would like to know what rights I have towards this deposit and whether I can claim it back in Small Claims Court. Thank you!

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Attorney answers 3


It is possible that two weeks of occupancy, with or without a written sublease, does not equate with a landlord-tenant relationship with the sublessor.

Please be advised that this answer shall not constitute legal advice, or create an attorney-client relationship.


You have a landlord - tenant relationship. Pursuant to NY RPAPL 711, a tenant shall include "an occupant of one or more rooms in a rooming house or a resident, not including a transient occupant of one or more rooms in a hotel who has been in possession for thirty consecutive days or longer...."

Puruant to your question, you have been in possession for more than 30 days. Furthermore, you have paid money to the landlord for the possession. Therefore, you are a tenant.

However, even if you were not considered a tenant, the "landlord" would have the responsibility to return the deposit.


Michael Andrew Markowitz

Michael Andrew Markowitz


If the deposit is under $5,000 you may file a small claims action.


Attorney Markowitz hit the nail on the head!

Moreover, even if there were no Landlord-Tennant Relationship there would still be a contract issue (perhaps quasi-contract if there is an insufficient or no writting). The person you sublet from has retained money for which there was no exchange of any good or service. In either event you have a valid claim at law.

Good Luck.

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