If you have an issue with the landlord in getting your security deposit back, call the New York State Attorney General's Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau. Not all security deposit matters are sizable enough to warrant paying a Tenants' lawyer for help. In some cases, the legal fees may exceed the amount of the deposit. Even if your lease provides for the landlord paying your legal fees if you prevail, it's a real gamble to rely on it. The landlord may agree to return the security deposit once you hire an attorney, but still might not reimburse your legal fees. Even if you pursue recovery of these costs at trial, there's no guarantee you'll receive them. It's simply not possible to predict with absolute certainly what will happen in court. However, calling the Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau can start an investigation at no cost to you. This also may be enough to get your landlord to return your money, if you are legally entitled to receive it. Of course, if the landlord has a legitimate reason for retaining it, such as having to repair conditions you left in the apartment, then you won't get it back. For this reason, it's a good idea to have evidence such as photos and witnesses proving that you left the unit in good shape, in case the landlord says otherwise. You can get more information from the Bureau at 212-416-8000.
Attention New York City Tenants: See these three new pages on protecting your rights that have just been added to the McAdams Law main site: