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Renters Displaced By Sandy Still Face Troubles

As if there weren’t enough troubles for those who lost their homes in Superstorm Sandy, now some renters are finding themselves in a lurch coming up with money for another security deposit; all the while not getting much support from FEMA.

Attorney Robert Gutman
Attorney Robert Gutman (Carluccio, Leone, Dimon, Doyle & Sacks, L.L.C)

Bob Gutman, attorney and partner in the Toms River based law firm Carluccio, Leone, Dimon, Doyle & Sacks, says it’s sad situation that is unfortunately all too common with people who lost their homes in an unforeseen disaster.

Gutman says renters (and homeowners) who still get “the runaround” from FEMA, all without receiving tangible help should contact their Congressional representative. For many people in Ocean and Monmouth County, it would be either Congressman Jon Runya, Congressman Frank Pallone, or Congressman Chris Smith.

For renters who’ve had their residences destroyed by the storm are in many cases legally entitled to the return of their initial security deposit.

“The New Jersey Security Deposit Act, requires landlords to return the deposits within five days of the occurrence of the disasters.” Gutman adds more specifically “when the town determines the premises is no longer habitable.”

Home in Brick damaged by Sandy
Home in Brick damaged by Sandy (Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ)

He notes the New Jersey Security Deposit Act allows tenants who don’t receive their deposit to go into small claims court, fill out a piece of paper, and go in front of a judge within a few weeks and be entitled to two times their security deposit back in addition to any attorney fees they have accrued throughout the process.

The returned security deposit, as well as any FEMA funding, can go to securing another residence. However whether the lease of the original rental can be broken is determined by several factors notes Gutman.

“Whether the house has been destroyed, whether the landlord is fixing it up, and whether the landlord is doing it timely.”

Guman says one final piece of advice is though in hindsight it may seem like commonplace, he highly recommends renters purchase some kind of renters insurance to protect their personal property from any future damage.

Additionally residents can seek information and services from the New Jersey Legal Services hotline.

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