If a deposit is placed a specific rental unit, can that unit be switched out at the last minute for another less desirable one?

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If a deposit is placed a specific rental unit, can that unit be switched out at the last minute for another less desirable one?

The following has occurred over the last 2 weeks. I was shown a condo to rent and put a deposit down on the unit. When it came time for me to move in I was told they gave that unit to someone else and that I would have take a different unit. Also, they would have to postpone the move-in date because of the condition of the replacement unit. I thought once a deposit was placed that secured that unit. Do I have any recourse? They told me take it or leave it and since I have to be out of my old place I have no choice. They refuse to give me the unit that I put the deposit on.

Asked on April 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You do have recourse.

A deposit holds a specific unit. By not giving you that specific unit, they have breached the agreement with you. You have several possible options, and should consult with an attorney experienced in landlord-tenant law to decide which to pursue:

1) You could possibly seek specific performance and force them to give you that unit.

2) Even if you can't do the above, you may be able to sue for compensation; for example, if the unit you are rented is less valuable or desirable than the one you wanted, you may be able to receive some cash.

3) You may be able to terminate the lease without penalty *and* have the owner/landlord pay for your living (e.g. hotel) and moving expenses to relocate.

Which options you can pursuse will turn on the specific facts of this case, but it's definitely worth the consultation with an attorney. Good luck.

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