IfI backed out of a rental, can the landlord keep my security deposit if he got another tenant to rent?

My cousin and I found a place to rent last month. We put a security deposit down and a pet deposit. The landlord told us that we wouldsign the lease on the first of this month, but he let us move stuff in the house prior to signing. Then 4 days before we were supposed to sign the lease my cousin backed out so we got all our stuff out of the house and the landlord kept our security deposit. He told us he would return the deposit if he can get another tenant. When I drove by the house someone had already moved in. Can he legally keep our deposit?

Asked on October 17, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Idaho

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you never signed a written lease for the rental that you were to occupy but placed a securirty deposit for the landlord, you are entitled to the full return of the security deposit since you backed out of the rental and the landlord was able to rent the unit to another tenant.

Potentially you may be liable to the landlord for a pro-rated charge of rent for one month on a presumed month-to-month lease up to the time that the new replacement tenant takes occupation of the unit you and your cousin were to occupy.

However, a security deposit under the laws of the various states in this country is for damages to the rental when the tenant moves out.


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