Is it legal to lock in a 1-year lease and for the landlord to cash the first, last month and safety deposit checks prior to the tenant seeing the unit to be occupied?

I am a student at UCLA and I signed a 1-year lease for an apartment. The lease does not start until September. The landlord already cashed the first month, last month, and the security deposit checks before I even moved in, and before I was even assigned a unit. So I do not know what unit I will occupy, what condition it will be in, or any preexisting damages that might be present before my occupancy. Is this practice allowed?

Asked on July 5, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You shouldn't give people dated checks if you don't want them to cash the checks.  Technically, yes its okay for them to cash the checks and hold onto the funds for safe keeping.  You should have demanded to be assigned and to approve your unit first. 

If later on, the landlord doesn't give you your deposit back, you can get extra damages through a california statute that I wrote about here:

If you are going to be renting for a while, you should read The CA guide to Tenant/Landlord relations here:

Best of luck.


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