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Jewish World Review August 26, 1999 /14 Elul, 5759

Bruce Williams

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Landlords vary on security deposits -- DEAR BRUCE: I have a twofold question: Is my landlord required to pay interest on the security deposit and rent we gave him? How do I protect myself to be sure that the money is segregated in case the landlord goes bankrupt? -- P.B., via e-mail

DEAR P.B.: There is no sure-fire way to separate your money to protect yourself. In most states, the money is required to be placed in a separate account and the interest credited to the tenant, less a small handling fee. The reality is that smaller landlords seldom go to the trouble of setting up the account as statutes require. The very big companies, by and large, will do so. As far as an ironclad way to protect yourself, I know of none. The reality is that it would take you more time and effort to police your deposit than that amount of money warrants.

DEAR BRUCE: We had a 1987 Cadillac in excellent condition. We repaired it as needed. It had 110,000 miles on it, and we were prepared to keep it for another 100,000 miles. While it was in the shop for repairs, it fell off the lift due to operator negligence. The Blue Book was only $4,000. We were not at fault in any way. We couldn't replace the car for $4,000, and we settled for $6,000. We still had to incur expenses to purchase another car. Do you think we could have sued the owner of the shop more successfully and gotten more money, or did we do right by cutting our losses and moving on? -- S.R., via e-mail

DEAR S.R.: I think that you did exactly the appropriate thing. You got the highest price, took it and ran. You see, what something is worth "to you" is not the issue. It is how much the car was worth on the open market between a legitimate buyer and seller. The $4,000 number was a lot closer then the 10, 15 or 20 thousand you had valued the car at. The fact is that dollars can replace tangible items -- it's just a question of how many dollars.

DEAR BRUCE: I am somewhat concerned about the Y2K bug affecting my stock and mutual funds portfolio records as well as my banking records. Many of my friends are liquidating their accounts. Do you think that this is called for? -- P.S., Ventura, Calif.

DEAR P.S.: There may very well be some hiccups caused by the Y2K problem in terms of portfolio value and even records. I have, at this moment, no intention of liquidating any of my holdings. What I will do is this: The week between Christmas and the new year, I will get an up-to-date accounting from the brokers that I deal with, delineating how many shares I own of which stock, and from each of the banks where I have accounts I will get an account balance and condition of the account, etc. I will do my very best, although with checking accounts, it may be tough not to have any transactions after Dec. 24. I will have a good starting place should I need it. I do not believe the problem will be as troublesome as so many folks would like us to believe.

Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).


08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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