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 ?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.)

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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