Similar to security deposit laws in other states, New York law specifies that landlords are responsible for returning a tenant's security deposit (less any deductions for damages and/or unpaid rent) after a tenant has moved out. However, state law requires:

  • If a building has 6 units or more, the landlord must deposit the security in a New York bank to earn interest, which the tenant is entitled to.
  • If a building has less than 6 units and the landlord has deposited the security in a bank, the interest still belongs to the tenant.

In the event that the security is deposited in a bank, the landlord must inform the tenant of the bank's name, address and amount of deposit. Note: even though the landlord owes the tenant the amount of interest earned on the security deposit, the landlord can keep 1% of the deposit as an administrative fee.

What Is the Time Limit for Returning Security Deposits?

New York state law requires landlords to return a security deposit, less any lawful deduction, either at the end of the lease or within a reasonable time thereafter. However, reasonable time can vary between 30-60 days. 

What Can I Do If My Refund Amount Is Not Correct?

Landlords are responsible for repaying money that rightfully belongs to their tenants. If you feel that you received an incorrect amount on your refund at the end of your tenancy, you can pursue an action in small claims court, or contact the New York State Department of Law, which accepts tenant complaints involving security deposits. Even though you can pursue these courses of action yourself, the assistance of a lawyer can help facilitate your claim and advise you if you decide to bring a case against your landlord for violating security deposit laws.

A qualified New York lawyer can provide you more information if there is a legal basis for your case. For more local legal information, please see these pages: