I had a tenant sign a lease and then back out of moving in…Can I keep their two month deposit or just one month until I rent it out ?

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I had a tenant sign a lease and then back out of moving in…Can I keep their two month deposit or just one month until I rent it out ?

and does my agent have to return the fee I paid them too??

Asked on August 6, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) The agent does not have to return the fee unless the agreement you had with the agent states that they must. Otherwise, the risk of not being paid by the renter is on you, not the agent; fees are only refundable to the extent an agreement says they are.
2) If they signed a lease, you are entitled to the lesser of a) the remaining rent due under the lease or b) the rent until you rent the space to someone else (i.e. rent for the period it is empty), assuming you are making reasonable efforts to rent the space out. You can certainly keep at least one month's rent from the deposit, since they renter was obligated for at least their first month's rent no matter what (property is rented and paid for in advance for each month); however, if it should take you several months to re-rent, you could (if you deemed it worthwhile) sue the renter for the extra months' rent due under the terms of the written lease they breached. (Note: if they were a month-to-month renter, however, they would only ever be liable for one month rent at a time.)


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