What to do if my landlord and I had a verbal agreement that a deposit was not necessary but now she insists that I have to give her one?

This was all said and done while writing up the rental agreement. She also said that she will put a lien on my car to get it. Can she do this?

Asked on November 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you had not yet signed the written lease, then the landlord could most likely renege on her promise that there would be no deposit, and you would have the choice of signing the lease requiring a deposit or choosing to not rent there: a written agreement supercededs previous oral discussions. There are some situations in which, however, the landlord could not go back on her promise of no deposit: they require that you did something significant to your detriment (give up another rental; relocate; etc.) based in large part  on the promise of no deposit, and that the landlord knew, when she made the promise, that you would do this.

If the written lease has already been signed, she is bound by its terms and can't add terms, so if there was no deposit in the lease, she can't add one.

She has no grounds to lien your car to get a deposit unlessyou signed a lease requiring one, did not pay it, and she sues you for the deposit and wins--after which you still don't provide it. If that all that occurs, she should be able to then use liens as a way to get the deposit.

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