Answer provided by Neil B. Garfinkel, REBNY Broker Counsel, Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP
The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“HSTPA”) created a specific time frame and procedure for landlords to follow when returning a tenant’s security deposit at the end of a lease term. The tenant should be given the opportunity to inspect the apartment both before occupancy begins and before vacating (moving out and retuning the keys). According to GOL § 7-108 (d), the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the tenant’s right to request an inspection before vacating the apartment and their right to be present at the inspection. If the tenant does request an inspection, it must take place no earlier than two weeks and no later than one week before the end of the tenancy. Forty-eight hours’ notice of the inspection date and time should be provided to the tenant. After the inspection, the landlord should provide the tenant with an itemized list of damages that are above and beyond normal wear and tear and cleaning. The tenant then has the opportunity to cure any of the damages instead of having the costs deducted from their security deposit.
The tenant should receive their security deposit back within 14 days of vacating the apartment and returning their keys to the premises. The deposit should be returned along with an itemized list of damage repair costs, if any portion was retained for such expenses. If the tenant does not receive the security deposit within 14 days, the landlord forfeits their right to keep any of it for damage repairs.