Can my former landlord hold on or keep my rent money if he has the rental relisted as available?

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Can my former landlord hold on or keep my rent money if he has the rental relisted as available?

This guy had a rental for cheap and I was in a bad situation. I needed a place

ASAP for me and my grand daughter who is being further tested for Autism. I was being thrown out after a break up. I was visably upset when I signed the lease and said the rental was habitual for use. He knew that I had a special needs child when I rented it. So I finally get there 2 days later to check out the place and there were bugs everywhere, nasty left over onions in the refrigerator, and a very soft spot in the bedroom which I was very afraid that my foot would go through. I begged the guy for 2 days to tear up the lease, telling him that I never stayed there and that he couldn’t sue or put a judgement on me since I was on disability. He is currently trying to rent the place again during the same month I rented the place. He says he is helping me and trying to save me money. He says that he will return my money when and if he rents the place out. The problem was that was all of my money. Now I’m displaced at my mom’s and have no money to rent something else. I need that money back to buy things for my 2 year old granddaughter. Is it legal for him to hold on to or keep my money while waiting to rent the property? I’m thinking about going get the key to the place and holding it until I get my money back. I don’t know what else I can do.

Asked on September 12, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You signed a lease--whether or not you were upset at the time is irrelevant, unfortunately, since the law does not, to be blunt, care about your personal situation; all it cares about is that for whatever reason, you entered into a contract (a lease is a contract). Contracts are enforceable. Having signed the lease, you are legally obligated to pay rent for all the months under the contract or until the landlord actually re-rents it and has a new tenant paying rent (not just when he lists it for rent). The landlord is under no obligation to return your money until he rents the space. 


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