Getting a grandmother her security deposit

Seven On Your Side
March 22, 2010 2:55:10 PM PDT
Even if you do everything correctly, a simple mistake can really cost you when moving out of an apartment. And for one Long Island woman, it almost cost her more than $1,000. There are no rents laws regulating what needs to be signed or documented when you move out of an apartment. You are on your own to protect yourself. So what steps do you need to take?

At 71 years young, Pia Van Nostrand says she remembers the day she moved out of her apartment like it was yesterday.

"After I finished cleaning up, I got my jacket, I got the car, I pulled up to the building and took the key and brought it to her," she said.

The grandmother insists that key was brought to the management office at the end of November, but she still was charged December rent.

"I said this is unbelievable," she said. "How you could say when I never even, December never saw me in that apartment, not for one hour."

A week into December is when the property manager at the Kings Park Manor recalls getting Pia's keys, which is why the complex would not return one month's rent on the security deposit.

"The law says that if a tenant stays one day into the month, they owe the whole month," real estate attorney Mark Altschul said.

Altschul deals with move out date disputes like Pia's all the time, which often end up in court. He recommends that tenants always should get something in writing.

"Either get a receipt or you mail in the keys, let's say, certified mail so you have the proof to establish when you sent the keys," he said.

Kings Park had no receipt policy and no paperwork on when the key was returned. Pia only had her moving company agreement from November 29. But after 7 On Your Side got involved, she received a rent refund of $1,095. And the management company changed its policy.

If your landlord or your property manager does not have a release already made up, you can always type up something yourself. Sign it, have them sign, and it's a good idea to have a witnessl. If not, it's your word against theirs, and they may not be as willing as this company to give you the benefit of the doubt.