If I gave a deposit for a rental and then 3 days later found out that I couldn’t move in, can I get my deposit back?

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If I gave a deposit for a rental and then 3 days later found out that I couldn’t move in, can I get my deposit back?

Paid $375 rent and a $200 deposit. The landlord is willing to return the rent but  is keeping the deposit. Can I make her return it?

Asked on July 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If it was a security deposit (i.e. a deposit against damages or unpaid rent) and the landlord has chosen to let you out of the lease, then she probably does need to return the security deposit, too, unless in otherwise letting you out of the lease, she stated that he was keeping the security deposit. However, she would be within her rights to specifically keep the deposit while otherwise letting you out of the rental, since she did not need to let you out of the rental at all--once you agreed to rent the premise, you are bound or obligated to pay the full rent due. Thus, in this situation, with a security deposit, it depends on the discussions and agreement when she agreed to let you out of the rental.

On the other hand, if the deposit was a deposit on the rental premises--e.g. to get the landlord to hold it for you, or as part of the application process--then she does  not need to return it; those deposits are normally unrefundable if the tenant is the one who cancels the rental, unless specifically made refundable (such as in the rental application).


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