Tenants' Security Deposit Rights in New York

Important Rules for New York Landlords and Tenants

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Landlord tenant law in the state of New York protects specific rights of tenants in the state. An important set of rules included in these laws involves the security deposit. Here are eight basic rights every tenant should know.

Maximum Security Deposit Amount in New York

Security deposits in New York are limited to the equivalent of one month’s rent. This limit was enacted statewide for all renters as part of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. 

Are Nonrefundable Deposits Allowed in New York?

In New York state, security deposits are always considered the property of the tenant, so it is illegal for a landlord to try to collect a security deposit that cannot be returned if the tenant follows all the terms of the lease. The landlord is responsible for placing this deposit in a trust for the term of the lease or rental agreement.

Rules for Storing the Security Deposit

New York landlords must store a tenant's security deposit at a banking institution that is located within the state of New York. The deposit cannot be combined with any personal money of the landlord and the landlord must not attempt to use the money from the security deposit as if it is his or her own.

Rental Properties With Six or More Units:

If a landlords has a rental property with six or more units, the tenants’ security deposits must be placed in an interest-bearing account. The account must earn interest at a rate that is equivalent to the interest rate for similar deposits in the area. Landlords who own rental property with fewer than six units are not required to place a tenant’s security deposit in an interest-bearing account.

Who Gets the Interest?:

  • Landlord- If a security deposit earns interest, the landlord is allowed to collect an annual fee equal to one percent of the security deposit.
  • Tenant- The remaining interest earned belongs to the tenant. The tenant has three options for this interest. The landlord can:
    • Hold this money for the tenant in the trust until the end of the lease.
    • Put this money toward the tenant’s rent.
    • Pay this interest to the tenant each year.

Written Notice Required After Collecting the Security Deposit

When a New York landlord deposits a tenant’s security deposit in a banking institution, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing. This written notice must include:

  • The name of the banking institution
  • The address of the banking institution
  • The total amount of money deposited

3 Reasons New York Landlords Can Keep a Security Deposit

In the state of New York, a landlord can keep all or a portion of a tenant's security deposit to cover:

  • Damage in excess of normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid rent
  • Additional breaches of the lease agreement

Is a Walk Through Inspection Required in New York?

Walkthroughs are required if requested by the tenant. As longs as tenants provide at least two weeks' notice before terminating their tenancy, landlord's are required to notify tenants in writing of their right to an inspection before vacating the premises and of their right to be present during the inspection. The inspection must take place between one and two weeks before the end of the tenancy. The landlord is required to provide 48 hours written notice of the inspection. After the inspection, they must provide the tenant with an itemized statement of repairs or cleaning to be deducted from the security deposit and give the tenant an opportunity to fix these items on their own prior to vacating.

Timeline for Returning a Tenant’s Security Deposit in New York

Landlords have 14 days from the time the tenant vacates the premises to provide the tenant with an itemized statement of any deductions to be taken from the security deposit and to return any remaining balance. If the statement and remaining balance are not provided within 14 days, the landlord forfeits the right to retain any portion of the security deposit.

Security Deposit Rules When Property Is Sold

If an investment property is sold or otherwise changes ownership, the landlord must do two things within five days of the transfer of ownership.

  1. Transfer all security deposits to the new owner.
  2. Notify all tenants, in writing, by certified or registered mail, of the change in ownership. In this written notice, the landlord must provide the tenant with:
    • The name of the new owner/owners.
    • The address of the new owner/owners.

Different rules may apply if a property has been foreclosed on, so you should seek legal counsel if your property has been foreclosed on or if you are buying a foreclosure to determine the appropriate actions.

What Is New York's Security Deposit Law?

For the original text on security deposit laws in the state of New York, please see New York General Obligations Law §§ 7-103 to 7-108.