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Person 1 rented a room to Person 2 in NYC and collected a security deposit. There’s no lease, no contract nothing, just proof of rent and deposit payments. Now Person 1 is being very uncool, even screaming at Person 2. Person 2 is concerned about the aggressive behaviour of Person 1.

Person 2 wants to move out, but does not want to give 30 days notice. Person 2 is concerned that they may not get the security deposit back in 30 days. They also want to avoid a law suit (even just Small Claims) because they have never had problems and want to keep it like that.

Can Person 2 leave without notice and tell Person 1 to keep the security deposit to cover for next month rent?

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  • 2
    There's no contract? Then there's no contract and no lease.
    – Trish
    Oct 22 '20 at 13:21
  • Yes right. But the person 2 can just leave without give 30 days notice and tell person one to keep the security deposit? I’m asking because person 2 doesn’t want to get in trouble but also person 2 don’t want to pay for next month rent now and then possibly not have her security deposit back because person 1 is definitely not trustful
    – Beatrice
    Oct 22 '20 at 14:07
  • Person 2 wants to avoid to be sued...
    – Beatrice
    Oct 22 '20 at 14:13
  • 1) you never told where this is. 2) we don't do specific legal advice here
    – Trish
    Oct 22 '20 at 14:20
  • I've edited your question to try to make it clearer. Please look through it and change anything I've misunderstood. You also need to tell us where this is, because laws vary between places, and there are people here from all over the world. Oct 22 '20 at 15:29
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Person 2 should not be scared of using the law. You haven't said where you are, but the basic principles, especially at the small claims level, are fairly universal.

Before anyone can sue you they need to write a formal letter telling you what you owe and why you owe it. At that point you can just hand over the money and be done. Or you can write back and explain why you disagree. (The one thing you DON'T do is ignore it). So if Person 2 moves out they don't need to worry about suddenly getting a lawsuit out of the blue; just wait and see if they get a letter.

Conversely, using a small claims court is generally pretty easy. Go to your relevant government website (find it using e.g. "atlanta small claims" or "georgia small claims" if you live in Atlanta) and follow the instructions. No lawyers needed (usually). Like most things, the first time you do it its all a bit scary, but the system is there for people like you and Person 2 to get what you are owed. If you won't use it because you are too scared, well then people will walk over you and get away with it. The courts are where you get to fight back.

Edit: NYC information

A bit of Googling found this web site with lots of relevant information. Fact sheet 9 covers apartment security deposits.

The security deposit must be kept by the owner in an interest-bearing account in a New York State bank. The owner must notify the tenant of the name and address of the bank and pay the tenant the full annual interest, less 1% of the security deposit per year for the owner's administrative costs. The tenant can choose whether the interest is to be subtracted from the rent, held in trust until the end of the tenancy, or paid in a lump sum at the end of each year.

A security deposit should not be used as a final month's rent. At the end of the lease, if the tenant honored the terms and conditions of the lease and left the apartment in the same condition as it was when initially rented, except for normal wear, the owner must return the full security deposit. If damage was done, the owner may apply part or all of the security deposit to the cost of repair.If the tenant disagrees with the owner over the return of the security deposit or payment of interest, the tenant may begin a proceeding in small claims court or contact the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau of the New York State Attorney General.

These information sheets are meant as a guide to the law rather than being the law itself. Assuming that the law for a room is the same as for an apartment, it sounds like the answer to your question is "No". However it also sounds like Person 1 has failed to put the deposit in a separate interest-bearing account, which would definitely count against them if they tried to sue.

The problem is that Person 1 might claim that there is damage to the room rented by Person 2, so that has to be taken from the deposit and hence money is still owed for the rent. There needs to be an agreement about any damage to the room, and that means giving notice.

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  • Person don’t want to sue person one. Person 2 wants to leave without 30 days notice and let person 1 keep the deposit to cover for next month. Person 2 is afraid person 1 will sue for leaving without notice and without pay even though person 1 has the deposit (person one used the money for private expenses so person 1 will be leaving hands empty, even though it’s not person 2 problem)
    – Beatrice
    Oct 22 '20 at 16:24
  • Person 2 could always ask a friend round as witness when giving notice. Oct 22 '20 at 16:52
  • I don't really see why whether or not the landlord properly put the deposit into an interest bearing account would have any bearing on who should rightfully get that money in the end. The tenant could sue for the interest they should have gotten, but failure to pay interest doesn't mean the deposit automatically goes back to the tenant. In today's economy of sub-1% interest rates, interest minus a 1% administrative fee probably amounts to $0 anyway. Oct 22 '20 at 17:07
  • Its a legal requirement that Person 1 seems to have failed to meet. This isn't about the interest, its about safeguarding the deposit. Not having done this puts Person 1 on the wrong side of the "clean hands" doctrine (law.cornell.edu/wex/clean-hands_doctrine). Not sure if that applies to a claim for money though. Oct 22 '20 at 17:46
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Can Person 2 leave without notice and tell Person 1 to keep the security deposit to cover for next month rent?

Yes. Section 232-B of Real Property law (monthly tenancy outside NY city) requires the tenant to give a one-month notice. Interestingly, section 232-A, which regulates this issue for tenancies in NY city, only restricts landlord's ability to terminate tenancy (see also section 228). That discrepancy suggests that monthly tenants in NY city are not required to give a one-month notice, at least in the absence of a written lease.

Even if section 232-A were to be construed as requiring monthly tenants to give a one-month notice, Person1's pattern of conduct sounds in breach of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment and maybe even constructive eviction. See Jackson v. Westminster House Owners Inc., 24 A.D.3d 249 (2005):

To make out a prima facie case of breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, a tenant must establish that the landlord's conduct substantially and materially deprived the tenant of the beneficial use and enjoyment of the premises. [...] [I]f the eviction is constructive, there must have been an abandonment of the premises by the tenant.

(citations omitted).

It is in Person2's best interest to secure evidence of Person1's aggressive conduct. That evidence may defeat the latter's possible claim regarding Person2's unexpected/unannounced move-out.

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