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Old 01-12-2011, 09:03 PM
1 posts, read 3,182 times
Reputation: 10


I recently met w/ a landlord to rent a condo in a mountain town. We met, looked over the place, it was good enough for me. I wrote him a check for 1st months rent and security deposit, we left without signing anything agreeing to sign a lease later. Within 5 hours, I found another place, decided to move into it and informed the original landlord of my decision, being informed that the check had been deposited and I was unable to stop payment. I am unable to get in touch with him after 20 days. Without anything being signed, am I entitled to get anything back???

Last edited by colorado11; 01-12-2011 at 09:45 PM.. Reason: added a detail
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Old 01-12-2011, 09:13 PM
Location: First Hill, Seattle
5,469 posts, read 5,774,125 times
Reputation: 7181
Don't do that in the future! But yeah, that's a really tough question. I would think you would, and I think the landlord would be a complete A-hole not to give it back to you. you don't have a lease, you apparently don't even have access to the property for which rent would be due....doesn't seem like you ever had keys to property right? However, those are legal issues. Do you have any friends or family who are attorneys? They may be better equipped to assist you than a layperson's forum
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Old 01-12-2011, 09:29 PM
Location: Wyoming
9,164 posts, read 16,515,249 times
Reputation: 13349
I don't know the answer either, but it's an interesting dilemma. It could be argued that the check was your agreement to rent the place, especially if you wrote "rent" and "security deposit" on your check. On the other hand, if there was no written agreement the landlord would be hard-pressed to explain why he has a right to keep all your money. If he took the property off the market during that 5 hours he could rightfully argue that you prevented potential renters from seeing it for a period of time. The most he should get to keep is the amount that he lost because of you.

I think if it was me I'd have placed a stop payment on the check if I couldn't get it back from the landlord immediately, but apparently you didn't do that. That means it's YOU that might have to take him to court and prove your case.

Good luck. I believe you're entitled to get back money, maybe all of it, and I hope you do.
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Old 01-14-2011, 06:48 PM
2,652 posts, read 7,639,474 times
Reputation: 1873
Get a lawyer.
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Old 01-15-2011, 02:39 PM
Location: N. Colorado
345 posts, read 758,179 times
Reputation: 284
Who deposits a check within 5 hours of you handing it over? Also I see no reason why your bank would say they cannot stop it on the same day. Something is odd.
He cannot keep the security deposit for any reason. He may be able to keep the 1st months rent since you had a verbal contract and you broke it.

I would send him a registered letter, stating that you did not have a lease, and want your money back within 30 days, and state that since you did not even live there he has no grounds to hold onto the deposit. Make a copy for yourself and hold on to it. If he fails to pick up the letter, keep it in it's sealed envelope. If he does not respond respond within 30 days get legal advice, as you might have to take him to small claims court. Just get advice do not bother to hire a lawyer, pay for an cheap initial consultation or it might cost you more then one months rent and you might lose in court.

I also suggest if you rent a place, make a large purchase etc in the future do not look at another, place a different car etc this can lead to buyer remorse and may cost you money if you try to back out on the original deal.
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Old 01-16-2011, 06:59 PM
794 posts, read 1,492,322 times
Reputation: 1163
One of the oldest statutes in English Legal history is the "Statute of Frauds". In short, it states that all contracts for real estate must be in writing. Your verbal contract was not worth the paper it was printed on (That's a joke. See, a contract not written down... never mind). So yes, you could get your money back, but at what cost? You would have to sue. Then file for a judgment. Then try and collect the judgment.

Next question: Why did you make a deal and then continue to shop? What would your opinion be of a landlord who took your check and then rented the space to someone else? Hmmm?
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Old 01-17-2011, 08:37 AM
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,754 posts, read 16,450,212 times
Reputation: 9287
gmm_24 wrote:
Who deposits a check within 5 hours of you handing it over?
Apparently the landlord did just that!
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:45 AM
726 posts, read 1,813,113 times
Reputation: 413
I have a friend who owns a couple of rental properties and he takes his rent checks directly to the bank their drawn on and cashes them. He does this to avoid NSF fees if he deposits them into his own account and the check bounces.
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