IfI backed out of a rental, can the landlord keep my security deposit if he got another tenant to rent?

UPDATED: Oct 17, 2011

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IfI backed out of a rental, can the landlord keep my security deposit if he got another tenant to rent?

My cousin and I found a place to rent last month. We put a security deposit down and a pet deposit. The landlord told us that we wouldsign the lease on the first of this month, but he let us move stuff in the house prior to signing. Then 4 days before we were supposed to sign the lease my cousin backed out so we got all our stuff out of the house and the landlord kept our security deposit. He told us he would return the deposit if he can get another tenant. When I drove by the house someone had already moved in. Can he legally keep our deposit?

Asked on October 17, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Idaho


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you never signed a written lease for the rental that you were to occupy but placed a securirty deposit for the landlord, you are entitled to the full return of the security deposit since you backed out of the rental and the landlord was able to rent the unit to another tenant.

Potentially you may be liable to the landlord for a pro-rated charge of rent for one month on a presumed month-to-month lease up to the time that the new replacement tenant takes occupation of the unit you and your cousin were to occupy.

However, a security deposit under the laws of the various states in this country is for damages to the rental when the tenant moves out.

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.

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