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  1. #1
    landlord1225 is offline Junior Member
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    Return of keys and security deposit

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? NY

    Does a tenant have a legal right to keep their key until they receive their security deposit? I have a tenant claiming that they have a legal right to that. This seems kind of strange to me and doesn't follow everything that has ever been required of me as a tenant or a landlord...

    Thanks!
  2. #2
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by landlord1225 View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? NY

    Does a tenant have a legal right to keep their key until they receive their security deposit? I have a tenant claiming that they have a legal right to that. This seems kind of strange to me and doesn't follow everything that has ever been required of me as a tenant or a landlord...

    Thanks!
    Sure they can. And you also have the right to charge them for possession of the rental unit for every day that they retain the keys and refuse to turn them over to you.
  3. #3
    xylene is offline Senior Member
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    Keys are not occupancy.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandyclaus View Post
    Sure they can. And you also have the right to charge them for possession of the rental unit for every day that they retain the keys and refuse to turn them over to you.
    ASSUMING they vacated - Here is the correct answer (as it is absurd to assert a landlord has an indefinite right to change for non-returned keys)

    Hire a reasonably priced locksmith to change the locks with a similar grade of lock, and deduct the cost of this from the deposit.

    Should this cost plus other damages or unpaid rent exceed the deposit, sue your former tenant for the balance.

    All this assumes you ran things legally and can prove your case of course.

    You do not have unlimited damages for the keys and the ex-tenants are not occupying the unit just because they wrongly retained the keys.
  4. #4
    startedone is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by xylene View Post
    ASSUMING they vacated - Here is the correct answer (as it is absurd to assert a landlord has an indefinite right to change for non-returned keys)

    Hire a reasonably priced locksmith to change the locks with a similar grade of lock, and deduct the cost of this from the deposit.

    Should this cost plus other damages or unpaid rent exceed the deposit, sue your former tenant for the balance.

    All this assumes you ran things legally and can prove your case of course.

    You do not have unlimited damages for the keys and the ex-tenants are not occupying the unit just because they wrongly retained the keys.
    I agree. Every wronged party has the duty to mitigate. You clearly cannot rent out the apt. while they hold keys that you know of. So how do you mitigate? Exactly like benzene, I mean xylene says (sorry, I forgot your Me Me --are you a 1,2 1,3 or 1,4 ... I bet you hate the other verisons)
  5. #5
    Searchertwin is offline Senior Member
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    Does a tenant have a legal right to keep their key until they receive their security deposit? I have a tenant claiming that they have a legal right to that. This seems kind of strange to me and doesn't follow everything that has ever been required of me as a tenant or a landlord.
    ..


    He does have that legal right. You have the legal right to continue expecting rent, plus late fees.

    Under no circumstance, change the locks. this means TROUBLE, for you.

    I would send them a crr letter stating that as long as they keep the key, than there are still living in the unit. Deposit cannot be return till key in returned, place inspected to show if there are damages and 30 days notice given to end lease. Include that you need to set a time for an move out inspection.

    Cover yourself here. They are playing games at your expense. If no forward address, send it to the rental unit. If it comes back, don't open.
    Wait it out for them to return key and than continue with a date for inspection. Take plenty of pictures and let them see you take them. This way they know you mean business and be hard to argue damage.
    Have them sign the move out sheet and get a forward address. If they don't provide, indicate that on the sheet and have them sign.

    Remember to send dep less damages to them within time frame that state has. Send everything by crr letter.
  6. #6
    landlord1225 is offline Junior Member
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    To be clear, this tenant chose to move out, gave notice and is claiming to be moved out (despite the fact that she still has items/trash in areas of the house) She rents a room in my home and ambushed me yesterday when I was home on a break from work (after avoiding me for most of this month) to demand that I inspect her room and return her security deposit. Her rental ends March 31.

    Does the fact that she gave notice and that she lives in my home alter my ability to change the locks or would it still constitute an illegal eviction?
  7. #7
    Searchertwin is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by landlord1225 View Post
    To be clear, this tenant chose to move out, gave notice and is claiming to be moved out (despite the fact that she still has items/trash in areas of the house) She rents a room in my home and ambushed me yesterday when I was home on a break from work (after avoiding me for most of this month) to demand that I inspect her room and return her security deposit. Her rental ends March 31.

    Does the fact that she gave notice and that she lives in my home alter my ability to change the locks or would it still constitute an illegal eviction?
    As long as she has "items" and holds the key, she is still renting the place.
    Inform her again, to send her notice to you in writing, move all items and trash, and than you will in return set up an appointment to inspect and for her to return the keys.
    You still cannot put locks on the door till all items are gone.
  8. #8
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
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    Your tenant may be fearful once she has fully moved out, you will not return her security deposit.

    On the other hand, she may not be aware of the time frame that a landlord has regarding the return of this deposit.

    Each state allows a landlord a certain amount of time to inspect the vacated rental unit to determine any damage above normal wear and tear. Many tenants do not realize this, fear that after leaving they will not receive their deposit back or need such as a deposit for their new rental unit.

    While it is true that this deposit is the tenants money, providing this at move out (or before) does not leave the landlord with any alternative except suing for any damages to the rental unit.

    New York is one of the few states that has a pretty vague requirement regarding the time frame for the security deposit return, stating that it must be returned (or information provided regarding the status of this) "within a reasonable amount of time" after the lease has ended. As a very general rule, this reasonable amount of time has been determined to be less than 2 months after the lease ends.

    Explain to your tenant that as long as she has her property in the rental unit and retains the key even after her move out date (hopefully documented in writing by her), you will assume that she continues to be your tenant and thus would continue to owe rent.

    Gail
  9. #9
    BL
    BL is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by landlord1225 View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? NY

    Does a tenant have a legal right to keep their key until they receive their security deposit? I have a tenant claiming that they have a legal right to that. This seems kind of strange to me and doesn't follow everything that has ever been required of me as a tenant or a landlord...

    Thanks!
    No.

    Do a walk through with the tenant and do not hurry.

    Make sure there are NO damages.

    If no damages , you can tell the tenant once all their belongings and trash are removed from the property and the keys are turned over ,the law allows a reasonable time to return the deposit.

    You can of course return it then if you'd like, minus any damages .

    As was said , If the tenant had given notice and removed all the belongings and still insisted on retaining the keys , tell the tenant to give you a forwarding address and you will return the deposit as per law allows , minus damages and any unpaid rent .

    It it wise for a LL to change locks or lock cylinders anyways once a tenant has vacated , but if keys are not returned to you ,you have a right to deduct the cost from the deposit.

    Watch out for these types of tenants .
  10. #10
    Searchertwin is offline Senior Member
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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by searchertwin View Post
    ..


    He does have that legal right. You have the legal right to continue expecting rent, plus late fees.

    Sorry, Landlord, the first sentence should have read, "He does not have that legal right."
    I just caught it.

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