Public Assistance and Security Deposits

Will the Department of Social Services pay for a security deposit?
Yes, under certain circumstances explained below. DSS may provide your security deposit either by a “security agreement” with the landlord or by a cash security deposit. A security agreement is a form which DSS gives the landlord promising that if you move out owing the landlord money, DSS will pay it. In return, the landlord will let you move in without paying a security deposit. If you get a security agreement and DSS ends up having to pay your landlord any money for you, the money will be taken out of your grant in monthly installments.

How do I get a security deposit/agreement for my new apartment?
Convincing DSS to pay a security deposit agreement is not easy. DSS should take care of your security deposit under the following conditions:

  1. You are moving to a less expensive place.
  2. Your previous home was condemned or destroyed.
  3. You had to move because of a medical problem or physical handicap.
  4. The person you had been staying or living with made you leave.
  5. You are moving out of temporary housing.
  6. You have to move into temporary housing because you no longer have permanent housing.
  7. You have to move because conditions in your previous home are physically or mentally unhealthy for you or someone in your family.

How do I get a security deposit agreement?
You must request one from DSS. You can ask verbally, but it is best to ask DSS for an additional allowance form. Just check the block for “security deposit/agreement,” sign and date the form, and mail or take it to your caseworker. Keep a copy.

What if I cannot find a landlord who will accept a security agreement?
Many landlords will not take security agreements. If you cannot find a landlord who will accept an agreement, DSS should pay a cash security deposit for you. You will have to prove that you have looked for but were unable to find a landlord who would let you move in without a cash security deposit.
You should keep track of all the apartments you called about or looked at. When you are looking, write down the address, the landlord’s name, how much the rent is, and why you could not rent each apartment. Also, ask each landlord whether s/he will accept a security agreement from DSS. Write down the landlord’s response.

What if DSS refuses to help me?
If you think you should have been given a security deposit, but DSS refuses, you should ask for that decision in writing. Immediately request a Fair Hearing by calling 800-342-3334. You may also request a Fair Hearing at the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Office of Administrative Hearings’ website at
If you are in danger of becoming homeless, you should ask for an “expedited” hearing. That will get your hearing scheduled sooner. Call our office for help if you have been denied. We can tell you what to do for a Fair Hearing, or we may agree to take your case.


√    DSS can provide security deposits.
√    If your landlord will not accept a security letter you may be entitled to a cash security deposit.
√    You may request a fair hearing if you are denied a security deposit.