Can a realtor keep a security deposit if you back out of a lease before moving in?

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Can a realtor keep a security deposit if you back out of a lease before moving in?

A lady in our church applied for an apartment and we put up 1/2 of the security deposit at the time of the application as per the realtors request. She got the apartment and signed a lease, to move on the 3rd of next month. She then found that she does not have the money for all the utilities, deposits, etc. as they pay absolutely nothing. She had to back out of the deal. Now the realtor is trying to keep her $175 (half of the) security. Can they do this?

Asked on May 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Here is what I believe is the law in Texas: "If a tenant has entered into a lease with a landlord and paid a security deposit or prepaid rent, and does not move into the unit, the tenant is entitled to a full refund if the tenant finds a replacement tenant satisfactory to the landlord who moves in by the date the lease was to begin. On the other hand, if the landlord secures the replacement tenant, the landlord may deduct from the security deposit or rent prepayment any amount agreed to in the lease as a lease cancellation fee OR actual expenses incurred by the landlord, including a reasonable amount for the landlord's time in finding a replacement tenant."  I would contact a tenant's rights group.  Good luck. 


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