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Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  20 years extensive experience in real estate law, foreclosure, finance, and landlord tenant law.
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My landlord collected my security deposit at the initial lease

Customer Question

My landlord collected my security deposit at the initial lease signing, $2300, now it's a year later and they are trying to collect 1.5 time times the rent, thus another security deposit, of $3400, on top of the initial security collected. Is this legal? What can we do to fight this?

I am aware they can ask for 1.5 times the rent for the initial security, but it's hard to imagine every year we re-sign our lease they can collect another security deposit 1.5 times the rent. Please advise.

Thank you!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Pro replied 1 year ago.

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Sorry for your situation.

Are there damages or anything they are trying or did deduct for or something?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

There are no damages or deductions that I know of. There hasn't been anything communicated in writing or in person of that nature.


 


Thank you,


Keith

Expert:  Law Pro replied 1 year ago.
The New Jersey security deposit law, the Rent Security Deposit Act, specifies
how a landlord must collect, maintain, and return a security deposit. Cite: N.J.S.A.
46:8-19. Under this law, a security deposit is money that belongs to the tenant but is
held by the landlord in trust. A security deposit is made to protect the landlord
against the tenant's failure to follow his or her responsibilities as stated in the lease.
This includes nonpayment of rent, or damage done to the apartment by the tenant,
other than ordinary wear and tear.


The Rent Security Deposit Act applies to all rental units, including tenant-occupied,
single-family homes. The only exception is for rental units in owner-occupied
buildings that have no more than two units other than the owner-landlord's unit.
However, the law does apply even to tenants in these small, owner-occupied buildings if the tenant sends a 30-day written notice to the landlord stating that he or she wants the landlord to comply with the law's provisions.


The most a landlord can collect as a security deposit is one and one-half times the
monthly rent.
Cite: N.J.S.A. 46:8-21.2. There are no exceptions to this limit. Sometimes a landlord will try to collect more security money from a tenant at the time the landlord raises the tenant's rent, in order to have the security keep pace with the rent increase.

The law now says that the most additional security money that a landlord can get
in any one year is 10 percent of the current deposit. Cite: NJ.S.A. 468-21.2.

Ask for a receipt when you pay the security deposit.

The receipt should include the date, the landlord's signature, and the amount of the security deposit paid, and that this money is for a security deposit.


They cannot collect but 1 security deposit. As stated, they can ask for an additional security deposit but no more than 10%.

I would inform the landlord that they conduct constitutes an illegal action and that if pressed will pursue your legal remedies including but not limited to filing suit against them.


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Law Pro, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 23789
Experience: 20 years extensive experience in real estate law, foreclosure, finance, and landlord tenant law.
Law Pro and 4 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

To be clear, when you write, "Ask for a receipt when you pay the security deposit" are you suggesting pay the additional $3400 security?


 


It seems it makes sense to follow your second piece of advice and send a certified letter stating their actions constitute illegal activity and if pressed we will pursue legal action.


 


Can you clarify?


 


Thank you,


Keith

Expert:  Law Pro replied 1 year ago.
No, not saying to pay the additional amount - they can only charge an additional about up to 10% of the current already deposited security pursuant to the statute. Get a receipt for that if you pay such.

That's it's fraud and wrongful violation of the statute if they persist in demanding more then they can statutorily demand.

I would sue them for fraud and misrepresentation if the persist AND if they conduct any retaliatory conduct against you. I would keep copies of their additional security deposit demands as evidence that because they were violating the statute and you wouldn't agree to such - now they are retaliating against you.




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