get deposit back

I gave a landlord a deposit, with an application, as proof that I was interested in an apartment in Brooklyn. Now I have decided not to move.
I never signed a lease. Can I get that deposit back?

Asked on January 22, 2018 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Even if you did not sign a written lease, there was still an agreement between you and the landlord that you would rent from him--at that time (pre-written lease signing) an oral agreement. It was formed when you gave them the security deposit for a unit. If they reject you, you will get the money back and can sue them if you don't: they are not allowed to keep your money while denying you housing. But if they accept you, as stated, there will be an oral agreement for you to lease (until and unless they then replace that with a written lease). Under such an oral agreement, you would be a month-to-month tenant, which means you have to provide a month's notice terminating your tenancy; that in turn means you always owe at least one month's rent. If they accept you, they can take one month's rent out of your deposit, unless you otherwise paid it, then return the balance (if any) to you.

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