AG James: Fairfield Properties must return security deposits for about 900 former tenants
Anyone who lived at a Fairfield Properties apartment could soon be getting back some money.
Attorney General Letitia James says the rental company illegally withheld over $420,000 in security deposits between June 2019 and December 2021.
She announced Friday that a settlement was reached and nearly 900 tenants are owed money.
Meghan Samodolski used to live at the Fairfield Broadway Knolls apartment complex in Holbrook.
Fairfield Properties still has not returned her $500 security deposit, claiming the washer/dryer was broken.
"Not one thing was broken," Samodolski said. "We walked through extra to make sure."
James also says Fairfield inspected apartments when tenants were not home, did not provide an itemized list of deductions and did not allow renters to make repairs themselves to avoid penalties.
Long Island Housing Services executive director Ian Wilder says tenants often need their security deposits to make a deposit on their next home.
"That means not buying medicine, not buying food, cutting back on buying clothes for kids so you can make the security for the next place," Wilder says.
In response, an attorney for Fairfield Properties put some of the blame on the COVID pandemic, writing "Fairfield diligently processes security deposit returns, however in many cases the security deposits, net of deduction for damages and unpaid sums, were not returned within the 14-day period required by law."
Samodolski says she is still waiting for her security deposit back after over a year.
"They completely cheated us," Samodolski says.
As part of the agreement, Fairfield must also pay $90,000 in penalties.
Attorneys for Fairfield Properties say around 12% of 8,000 tenants experienced delays in getting their security deposits back.
The first batch of checks are expected to be mailed next week.