CORTLAND, N.Y. – A Cortland landlord has been accused of failing to refund nearly 100 students with their security deposits and withholding approximately $43,000 dollars, according to a release from the New York Attorney General’s office on Thursday afternoon.
Landlord Jeff D. Grodinsky, owner of Vida Social Living, is also affiliated with several other properties in the area including Cortland Habitats Inc., College Hill Realty, Campus Habitats, Committed 2 Cortland, 77-79 Main Street, and Walk 2 Class. The corporate entities have owned and rented at least 36 properties which are primarily rented out to Cortland State University students.
The investigation launched after dozens of students from Cortland State University reported they never received their security deposit refund. Since then, 96 students have come forward and filed similar reports. According to the Attorney General’s office, it appears that since 2014 Grodinsky has deposited renter’s security deposits in with his personal funds. According to New York State law, landlords are required to maintain security deposits int separate interest-bearing bank accounts.
It was also reported that Grodinsky filed for bankruptcy after the bank foreclosed many of his properties in 2015 for failing to pay the mortgage. However, the students who signed leases for his properties for the 2015-2016 school year were never reimbursed for their deposits on the foreclosed buildings.
At this time, the Attorney General’s office has determined that Grodinsky and his affiliated businesses had failed to return at least $43,770 dollars to the 96 students who reported missing security deposits.
“As we allege, this landlord took advantage of college students by treating their security deposits like personal funds and failing to provide refunds,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in a news release. “The law protects tenants’ right to their hard-earned money and my office will fight to ensure these renters get the restitution they deserve.”
According to the release, Grodinsky has agreed to settle the matter in the Onondaga County Supreme Court. Upon court approval, Grodinsky will be responsible for fully refunding the tenants as well as $26,000 dollars in costs and penalties.
Renters who have not already filed a complaint and believe Jeff Grodinsky may have defrauded them may also be eligible for restitution within the next 90 days. Impacted consumers can file a complaint online or by calling the consumer helpline at 1-800-771-7755.