(Closed) NWR Lawyers/Realtors/Apartment experts: Questions on damage deposit

posted 6 years ago in Legal
Post # 3
Member
13099 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

I’d bet that since you already signed a contract, you’ll have to pay at least the first month (in order to cover your 30 days notice) and then whatever penalties were in place for breaking the contract early.  I wouldn’t think you’d actually have to LIVE there.  But you are going to probably be out some money.

Post # 4
Hostess
11167 posts
Sugar Beekeeper

@BrookeBQ:  or can we tell her to rip up the cheque (not cashed yet)?

It doesn’t really work that way unfortunately. Once they take it off the market and you have signed the lease you are committing to rent the property. You can certainly ask to have your deposit back and discuss your options but the landlord isn’t under any obligation to work with you necessarily.

Here is a good article that my mother references to new tenants: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/06/AR2006100600850.html

Good luck, hope it works out.

Post # 5
Member
1526 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I am not sure how things work in Canada, but I worked for a law firm for 5 years in the US (Maryland) that specialized in landlord/tenant issues.  

Unfortunately, if you have already signed a contract you are locked in.  Legally, you are responsible for the rent until the end of the lease term or until the apartment is rerented, whichever comes first.

I am not sure if it is any different in Canada, and I would probably need to read your contract to be sure.  There should be a clause in there if you take the time to look through it.

Sorry for the bad news!

Post # 8
Member
2233 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

It depends where you are moving to, in Ontario it is illegal for landlords to ask for a damage deposit. 

I find it quite odd that you have a month to month lease & even more odd that the agent didn’t take your deposit cheque from you right away. 

You are probably bound to one month and you can give them notice now or you can pay that one month’s rent and stay where you are. You can also give notice now, you don’t have to wait until it’s 30 days beforehand, they may be generous and try to find someone else to take over your lease. 

Another option is a subletter, but you would need permission from the landlord for this & ideally they would void your contract and have the subletter just become a new tenant.

Post # 9
Member
2233 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

OP, did you sign an actual lease agreement or just fill out that Rental Application?? If you just filled out the application, it’s not a legal binding document!

Post # 10
Member
926 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I used to lease apartments for years.  If that’s all you signed, it’s just an application. It’s not an agreement to take possession of any particular apartment, at any particular date, for any particular amount.  I’d say you’re not locked into anything.  Where I worked, our application had a contract that lined out the intended apartment, move in date and price- specifically in case the tenants backed out before they signed the lease contract.   If there was nothing attached to or on the back of this, you probably don’t have to pay the rent. 

The flipside to that though, is if there is no contract which indicated the purpose of the money that you already gave them, then you get into a “your word vs theirs,” situation.  They could take the whole deposit as an “application fee.”  

Post # 11
Member
12976 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

It really depends on the specific property management company or landlord.  In my area, a lot of property management companies have a 30 day grace period where you can back out without having to be stuck in a full year lease.  You may be out of luck for the first month’s rent, but maybe you can get out of the lease. 

Did you sign an actual lease, other than the rental application?  Because that application doesn’t say anything about the agreement between you two (mine details the unit number, rental amount, assigned parking spot, maintenence stuff, fees, perks/benefits of the building, etc.)

Post # 13
Member
1526 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@BrookeBQ:  Yay!  That is just a rental app!  Looks like you are in the clear 🙂

Post # 15
Member
2233 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Yeah you’re in the clear and that agent screwed up big time. 

I mean, technically they could hold you to it since you have clearly expressed interest but in Real Estate, the law is the law a without a written and signed contract you have nothing. 

Post # 16
Member
926 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

Yeah, you definitely didn’t sign a lease and shouldn’t have to pay a dime of rent.  I would look at the emails closely.  If they say anything along the lines of “I need this deposit to hold the apartment, and if you don’t take the apartment as agreed, it will be nonrefundable,” THEN you might lose the deposit.  if she just asked for a “damage,” deposit and there’s nothing in the email about a set date or address, you’re probably in the clear.

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