Q. I recently moved out of a studio apartment that I had rented for three years in the West Village. I didn’t leave the apartment in the best condition and some of the damage was my fault. I didn’t really expect to get my $2,500 security deposit back.
However, after I moved out, my landlord called me to say that it cost $800 more than that to make repairs. Do I really have to pay him?
A. Absolutely! A security deposit is designed to protect a landlord from having to go after a tenant to collect monetary damages after the tenant moves out. It is not, however, a cap on a tenant’s liability.\
If you caused damage to the property and the landlord can demonstrate that the reasonable cost of the repairs was $800 more than your security deposit, you owe that money.
In the event that you do not settle your obligations with your landlord, he could file a claim against you in small claims court. If you choose to ignore it, he will ultimately get a default judgment against you and presumably could collect on it by levying your assets (e.g. bank accounts) or garnishing your wages.