Does a person have the right to withold a deposit for an apartment that you never moved in to?

I was trying to sublease an apartment. I gave a $400 deposit. I never received a lease to sign or an application to fill out at this time. The tenant then asked me for 1st months rent in exchange for the keys. I asked to speak/see the landlord, but they danced around the landlord each time. After being refused and not having any documentation stating that I had the right to move in, I demanded my deposit back. The tenant refused to give it back, and said i was responsible for it being vacant. However the apartment wasn’t vacant, someone was still living there. I just want my money back.

Asked on November 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you have an oral agreement to sublease an apartment and you have signed no written document for its occupation where you have decided that you do not want to lease the property, you have every right to receive the return of your deposit.

I would write the person who has the deposit asking for its return by a set date. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference. If you do not have the deposit in hand by the time the requested return date comes and goes, your recourse is a small claims court action.

Good luck.

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