New York residents are all too familiar with the expensive nature of moving to a new apartment. While the physical cost of moving (hiring a company, using gas, renting trucks, buying new furniture) is high enough, we are talking about the massive payments a new tenant must make to secure a new apartment: first and last month's rent, plus a security deposit, are common requests made by landlords.
The security deposit can be particularly troubling. Many tenants pay the deposit, as they are required -- but rarely do they get the entire deposit back. Usually a chunk of it is gone when they move out, if they get anything back at all. Another common pitfall involving security deposits is that the tenant does not receive their security deposit back in the window of time required by law.
This spurs many landlord-tenant disputes, as the exiting tenant believes he or she is entitled to more from their security deposit return, while the landlord believes the amount they have taken matches what is necessary for them to clean and patch up the vacated apartment. Sometimes, landlords can take advantage of the situation, charging tenants hundreds of dollars via their security deposit to clean a carpet, for example -- when in reality, the cleaning did not cost that much.
Remember that, as a tenant, you have a number of rights regarding your security deposit. If you believe your deposit has been wrongfully or fraudulently taken by your landlord, you could pursue legal action to try to recoup some (or all) of that lost money.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Security deposits stir up disputes between landlords, tenants," Carolyn Said, May 23, 2013