Am I required to return the security deposit if a tenant decides to move out a month later? 9 Answers as of July 03, 2013

If a tenant gives me first months rent and deposit and then a few days later, before the lease is signed, they decide they no longer want it, am I required to return money?

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Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
Would it be fair to keep it? Did you earn the money? Did you stop advertising and lose one month's rent from someone else? Without a signed contract, what is the basis to keep the money? Do you want to invite the non-tenant to sue you? Can you compromise and get a signed release from each other?
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 7/3/2013
Law Office of Tadd Dietz, PLLC
Law Office of Tadd Dietz, PLLC | Tadd Dietz
Under Utah law tenants are entitled to a return of or an explanation why the security deposit is being retained at the end of the tenancy.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 8/18/2011
Frances R. Johnson
Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
This question is combining two separate issues. There is a difference between a security deposit and first and last month's rent. Advance money is not automatically a security deposit, and whether it is depends upon specifically what is stated in the lease. Funds designated as a "security deposit" must be returned within 30 days of termination of the lease. See Colorado Revised Statutes 38-12-103. Failure to comply with the law could expose a Colorado landlord to exemplary damages and attorney fees.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 8/16/2011
The Coyle Law Office
The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
If the lease is not signed, I would recommend returning the money. If the lease had already been signed, you would be able to hold that amount which you lost out on until you were able to find a new renter.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 8/17/2011
Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein
Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein | Neal L. Weinstein
Generally, yes. Certainly the security deposit needs to be returned, but if no lease was signed and the person never moved in, you probably didn't suffer any loss. He or she could sue you and possibly get attorney's fees for unfair trade practices and his money back if it was only a few days. You may be entitled to some consequential costs if you stopped advertising and had to insert a new ad, but if you simply were advertising on Craigslist, forget it.
Answer Applies to: Maine
Replied: 8/16/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    Yes you have 35 days to return the security deposit or a statement for damages to the apartment that you are deducting cost of repair. If you don't you will be required to pay double and if it goes to court you may pay their attorney's fees.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    A security deposit is to protect you in the event of a default. If you and the tenant never came to terms but the tenant moved in temporarily anyway, then you are entitled to rent for the entire time of occupancy but cannot keep the security left over after you have subtracted rent due and repairs other than normal wear and tear.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink | Steven Alan Fink
    It depends if you were damaged by their breach. If you can lease the apartment to someone else you should return the deposit. If you have to spend money advertising or have it vacant for a month or two you should keep it. Civil Code 1950.5 requires you to return security deposit within 21 days, less the enumerated damages.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/16/2011
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