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Real Estate Law (esp. Landlord-Tenant)/Apartment Complex Breach of verbal contract


I recently put a down a deposit for an apartment that I chose. Before giving the apartment complex my deposit and application I specifically asked if they would be able to hold the apartment for longer than 30 days. I was informed that the agent had to speak with her manager first. She called me at a later time and informed me that they would be able to hold the apartment until my preferred move in date but if I wanted to move in prior to that date then I could and they would just pro-rate the rent.

Two weeks before my move I date I call to see how much it would the pro-rated cost would be if I wanted to move in one week prior to my requested move in date. At that point the agent became very unsure of anything and told me she would have to call me back. After not hearing from her for two days I finally called back and was informed that my apartment had been given to another tenant who wanted an earlier move in date than I did. They them stated that they had an identical apartment that would be available on the original move in date but not before.

My issue with this is that I have not seen this apartment and will not be able to until 3 days prior to me moving into the apartment. I was not notified that my apartment was given to another tenant. I had begun the process of putting utilities in my name for the promised apartment. They are supposed to be remodeling the apartment prior to my move in and I'm not sure that it can be accomplished in the 4 days between the current tenant move out date and my move in date.

At this point I would like my deposit back as I prefer not to deal with a complex that has had so many inconsistencies; I haven't even moved in yet. They have not cashed the deposit check yet. I don't want to be "sneaky" and do a stop payment on the check I simply want them to hand it over. Do you think walking in there and asking for my check is best or do you think I need to get an attorney involved?

Hi Taylor,

You should review your rental application / agreement with the apartment company. What does it say about your deposit and holding the apartment for you? That should be the controlling document. Did you get anything in writing from the apartment company saying that they would hold that particular unit for you? You may or may not be able to get your deposit back, but if the apartment company is able to provide you with a very similar apartment at the time you requested it, your chances of getting a refund of your deposit may be diminished. You can always ask the apartment for a refund of your deposit. If they say no, it wouldn't hurt to consult with an attorney.

Thanks for your question!

David Piotrowski
Attorney at Law

*No Attorney/Client Relationship and No Legal Advice -

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Real Estate Law (esp. Landlord-Tenant)

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David Piotrowski, Esq.


My landlord/tenant practice primarily assists California landlords with all aspects of the landlord/tenant relationship including leases, contract violations, non-payment of rent, and evictions. I can also advise, on a more general level, other real property issues.


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