If I can sue?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If I can sue?

I went to look at a apartment and they told me to rent it for $2,600 and to leave a deposit to hold the place. We agreed and left her $500 deposit and received a receipt. We signed no other type of documents. She texted to meet the landlord and the landlord said the price would go up to $2,800 but will make it $2,750 if we fixed up the garbage. My wife decided it was too much money and said we should just get our money back. When we called she claimed it was unrefundable.

Asked on December 1, 2017 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

When you placed the deposit, you placed it to hold the apartment at the price and under the terms disclosed to you at the time you placed the deposit: i.e. at $2,600. If you refused to rent at that previously disclosed price, then you would be in breach of contract and they could retain the deposit. But since they tried to increase the price, *they*, not you, were in breach of contract (refusing to rent at the agreed upon price; the price you had put the deposit on) and therefore are *not* allowed to keep the deposit--a party may not breach an agreement while retaining the other side's money. Based on what you write, if you were to sue for it (e.g. in small claims court), you should have a reasonably good chance of prevailing and getting the money; in the suit, you would stress that you were ready and willing to rent at the price they had previously told you and based on which you had placed the deposit, but that they then tried to increase the price by up to $2,400/year.

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