What is the law concerning the return of a deposit?

I gave a holding deposit for a place and I do not take the place due to the landlord wanting a double deposit. Before I even gave my money the landlord said it was refundable. Once I notified him that I was not willing to pay the double deposit and I would like to be refunded, he gave me a date when he was going to refund my money. The date has passed and now the landlord is saying I should learn the law concerning holding deposits. Am I entitled to a refund, is he entitled to keep his word?

Asked on September 3, 2015 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you gave a partial deposit knowing the landlord expected more, but then decided that you were unwilling to pay that much, the landlord may keep your deposit in this case, you breached the agreement by being unwilling to go through with obligations of which you were aware before making the initial deposit. 
If, however, on the other hand as I believe is the case from what you write, you deposited what you thought would be the entire deposit, then the landlord told you the deposit was double that, it was the landlord who breached, by not following the terms of the agreement and instead unilaterally on his own without your consent attempting to alter the agreement, which is something he may not do. In that case, his breach would entitle you to the return of your deposit, since he is the one in default of his contractual obligations and if he will not voluntarily return it, you may sue him e.g. in small claims court for its return.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.