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Joseph, Lawyer
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Experience:  Attorney with significant and substantial experience in multiple areas of law.
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On the evening of August 6th, a tenant texted me about having

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On the evening of August 6th, a tenant texted me about having inserted $3.00 into my building's dryer, and he didn't know what to do since his last two quarters became jammed in the coin slot box. Shortly after that text, I arrived home and attempted to retrieve the the two coins, but I was not able to grasp on to them. As I continued to see if anything could be done, the tenant's roommate came down to the laundry area and assisted me in trying to dislodge both coins. Because we were unsuccessful at getting to them, I immediately called for a professional appliance service repair, but the repairman could only come the following morning.

The next morning, the appliance service repairmen arrived and worked on the dryer's coin slot box for a considerable amount of time. While doing so, the tenant (who inserted the coins) entered and left the building on his errands. He saw the repairmen working. Finally, when the dryer's coin slot box became unjammed, one of the service repairmen handed me what he said was the problem. One coin was a US quarter, and the other coin was a Canadian quarter. As the repairmen were packing up and getting ready to leave, I called the tenant to show him the two quarters. I also handed him the bill, which totaled $199.00.

The tenant was surprised when he saw the Canadian quarter. He explained that he was using a roll of coins from Chase Bank. I gave the tenant a copy of the bill, and told him to tell Chase Bank that their roll may have contained a Canadian quarter. The tenant told me that he would pay for 1/2 of the cost of the work because he felt that that would be fair. I think that the entire cost of the service is the tenant's responsibility because prior to that coin box jam, the dryer was fully operational.

The last week of August, at the end of their lease term, the tenant and his roommate moved out of the apartment. I retained $199.00 from the apartment security and returned the balance to the tenant. On the bank check refund, the memo read that the $199.00 was for the dryer's repair service. Because I had overlooked an email sent to me by the tenant with respect to his paying for half of the bill, he now says that he is no longer willing to pay half of the repair cost, and wants me to refund him the entire amount within 5 days.

What advise can you give to me? I'm thinking that he will take me to small claims court. Am I responsible for my tenant's act and neglect?

Thank you.

Hello Linda,

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

My name isXXXXX am a licensed attorney, and my goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

A security deposit only covers damages to the rental unit (apartment) that is being rented. Deductions made from a security deposit must be itemized and must be related to damage that was done to the rental unit itself.

Unfortunately, the damage that the tenant caused to the dryer would not be considered an authorized deduction, and if you failed to give an itemized list of deductions, you could be on the hook for more than just the $199 that you deducted as a cost of the dryer repair, as New York allows for treble damages for unreturned security deposits.

So, unfortunately, it would be best for you to return the amount in the security deposit that you deducted for the dryer. Then, if the tenant refuses to pay for his negligence, you can file a claim in small claims court against the tenant to pay for the dryer, since the damages were due to his negligence.

Otherwise, I'm afraid that you could wind up have to pay nearly $600 if the tenant takes you to small claims court over the security deposit. It's best for you to return the $199 and then sue for it separately in small claims court.

I hope the above information is helpful, although I realize it is not what you wanted to hear. I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX had better news to give you, but I hope you appreciate an honest and direct answer to your question. It would be unprofessional of me and unfair to you to provide you with anything less.

Please let me know if you have any follow up or clarifying questions as I want to ensure that you are completely satisfied with my service. Please contact me first if you are contemplating leaving me a negative rating, as I’ll be happy to continue to address your concerns until you are completely satisfied with my service.

If not, please remember to rate my answer positively so I get credit for my work.

Thanks and best of luck!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dear XXXXXph:


Thank you for your prompt reply. I want to do this the right way. I will return the $199 immediately to my tenant. Can you please tell me if I should include a letter, or in this case, another copy of the original bill along with the reimbursed amount? The receipt from the appliance company is handwritten and says, "Maytag coin box problem". Is it appropriate to ask for payment in the following manner:


Dear Immanuel:


Enclosed, please find check # XXXXX in the amount of $199, which was originally withheld from your security to pay for the service repair to the dryer that was jammed by you.


Additionally, I am enclosing a copy of the receipt from AP Appliance Pro NYC, for which I have paid and request that you immediately reimburse me due to the following:


For professional services rendered on August 7, 2013 to the Maytag Dryer Coin Slot Box to dislodge two (2) jammed coins (One Canadian quarter and one US quarter), which you inserted the prior evening, rendering the dryer inoperable in the amount of $199.


Thank you.


Joseph, is this acceptable and clear?



Hello Linda,

Your letter looks great. I would include a copy of the bill along with your request/demand that it be returned, in addition to your notification that you are returning the $199 that was withheld from the deposit.

Please let me know if you have any follow up questions.

Thanks and best of luck!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dear XXXXXph:


I am sending the check out tomorrow, however, Ihave two more questions:


1. Do you think that I have a good chance of being reimbursed for my tenant's act in jamming the dryer's coin box?


2. How long should I wait before I take him to small claims court?


I am a 'small' landlord. I accommodate all my tenants fairly, quickly and to the best of my ability. Although he has been a reliable tenant, he has sent me emails that are causing me stress. Do I stand a chance in getting fully reimbursed according to New York?


3. Do I need to call back the repair people?


I do have the original text where the tenant states that the last two coins became stuck.


Thank you.







1. He may want to work with you if you will agree to only take half of the money that is due on the machine, but it seems that he is probably unwilling to reimburse you entirely for the cost of the dryer.

If you go to court, there may be some difficulty, since while he is definitely the party responsible for the damage, it may be hard to prove negligence. If he really did use a roll of quarters from Chase, it may be considered reasonable that he relied on the quarters being American quarters and not Canadian. If that's the case, it's possible that your claim for negligence would be denied.

But I'd still say you have a good chance. I just can't be specific as to percentages, since every judge in every small claim court is different.

2. There's no set amount of time. If he doesn't agree to pay back the money he owes due to negligence you can take him to court.

3. It would be good to get a statement from the repair people that what caused the need for the repairs was a stuck Canadian quarter. As you would want to have definite proof that it was your tenant's negligent action that caused the damages.
Joseph and 2 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Hello Linda,

Just wanted to check in to see if you had any follow up or clarifying questions regarding the above information.

If not, please remember to rate my answer positively so I get credit for my work!

Thanks and best of luck!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dear XXXXXph,


I clicked away at all the biggest smiley faces, but I'm not sure if it registered properly because I keep on receiving emails to rate your service. I do hope that your satisfaction results have finally been processed as of this message!


Thank you.





Hello Linda,

No, unfortunately it doesn't seem to have gone through. Please try again. If it doesn't go through, I can also have them process a 'manual accept,' as you've indicated your satisfaction with my service here.

Thanks again and best of luck!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Dear XXXXXph,

I have just contacted this site's team and sent them the following:

Yesterday, I used your site to ask a legal question and the lawyer, Joseph, was prompt, thorough, clear and received the highest satisfactory rating from me. However, he has not been credited, thus far, for his advice to me. Did my payment go through? Please know that I do not want to continually subscribe, but intend to pay for yesterday's transactions. Has my payment been processed?

Hope this works!
Thanks Linda!

That's greatly appreciated!

Have a great night!