My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: New York
So, in May of 2007 I signed a one year lease with my roommate. We both paid $375 for the security deposit, for a total of $750. Mid September, he tells me he has applied for a new job in a different state and would be moving out. He was under the assumption he owed nothing after he moved out, and "I was screwed." So, I tried explaining to him that he was still legally responsible for rent and utilities, until he found another roommate. He did find another roommate before leaving, that I agreed to. However, the new person he found to live there, did not have enough money to cover rent for the month of October and a security deposit, both would have been $375 for a total of 750 due. I made my new roommate sign the lease with my landlord to make sure she understood he was taking his spot. My roommate told him to just pay HIM when he got a chance to so he wasn't out his deposit money- this stemmed because I told him moving out he was losing his deposit because he was breaking his lease, so the $750 original security was mine unless the new roommate paid either him or the landlord, who could return his 375. A bit flimsy, but at least the landlord would know the deposit was returned to my original roommate.
Well, he never paid my former roommate. Our lease ran up on May 31st. I received half of our deposit back, the 375$ I put in. I used the other half of the deposit for my last months rent, which was fine with my landlord. I'm under the assumption that the deposit was mine, as my new roommate paid none of it, and my original roommate moved out and was off the lease. Now my original roommate is coming after me saying he's entitled to it and he's going to say I stole it from him because I never returned it.
Is the deposit mine? And shouldn't he have gone after the new roommate a long time ago, instead of giving up on him? I know he tried contacting him but my roommate was quite a dirt bag- I figured he wouldn't pay him , and he ignored his phone calls. So. I'm going to court now I guess because "I stole my original roommates deposit." Did I have a right to keep it?