If I put a deposit on a house and then found that I wasn’t able to move, can I get my deposit back?

UPDATED: Mar 26, 2012

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If I put a deposit on a house and then found that I wasn’t able to move, can I get my deposit back?

I found out 2 weeks before hand that I wasn’t able to move into a home that I had put a deposit on. We didn’t sign a lease, just a paper saying that we had paid the deposit for the house. It had the address on the paper along with the dates that we moved in and out. Since we never moved in or signed a lease can we get our deposit back?

Asked on March 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Without a signed written lease, but with an agreement to rent or lease, you were a month to month tenant on an oral lease. That means that while you can terminate tenancy on 30 days notice, you are always obligated for at least one month's rent--even at the outset. Therefore, the landlord should be entitled to keep an amount of the deposit equal to one month's rent.

You say, though, that there was a piece of paper "with the dates we moved in and out." Depending on what exactly that said, it's not impossible that could be considered a written lease for  the listed term and you could be held liable for even more rent. If the landlord tries to hold you accountable for more than one month's rent, you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney.

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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