Lagging landlord owes me money.
March 22, 2010 8:34 PM   Subscribe

I put a down payment on an apartment but the landlord delayed until I backed out. Now he's delaying repayment of the down payment. What should I do? YANML.

I was supposed to move in two weeks ago, but every time he said I could move in something would come up and he would ask me to wait another day. This happened for two weeks.

Two days ago I told him I was going to find another place to live and he said he would return my money by tonight. Now he's putting it off just like he put off my move.

I have receipts for the payment and records of every single email and text exchange we've had. I'm through playing games with this guy. What can/should I do?
posted by amanzi to Law & Government (8 answers total)
 
As with any legal question on AskMefi we really need to know which state or country you are in to figure what your rights are.
posted by crapmatic at 8:36 PM on March 22, 2010


Sorry - I'm in Nashville, TN. Davidson County.
posted by amanzi at 8:38 PM on March 22, 2010


Consult a lawyer and get lawyer to write landlord a strongly-worded letter? Friends have succeeded with this in the past in similar circumstances.
posted by sallybrown at 8:42 PM on March 22, 2010


Just threaten a lawyer. That usually works- I had a very similar problem and all I had to say was, "I talked to a lawyer and ..." that was that.
posted by GilloD at 9:59 PM on March 22, 2010


Bad wording- Don't threaten a lawyer, please. Threaten to speak to a lawyer.
posted by GilloD at 10:00 PM on March 22, 2010


I couldn't find a local tenants rights group, but you may be able to get a referral from the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee. They have a tenants rights booklet that doesn't specifically address your question.

A lawyer should be able to help you pro bono, since the landlord will be liable for attorneys fees per TN code [pdf]:

66-28-501. Noncompliance with rental agreement by landlord.

(a) Except as provided in this chapter, the tenant may recover damages, obtain injunctive relief and recover reasonable attorney's fees for any noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or any section of this chapter upon giving fourteen (14) days' written notice.

(b) If the rental agreement is terminated for noncompliance after sufficient notice, the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security deposits recoverable by the tenant under ยง 66-28-301.


To be sure, it isn't clear that you have a rental agreement. Certainly you thought you did. Is there a signed lease?

There doesn't seem to be any provision in TN for earnest money or a "holding deposit" -- most states do not clarify this, and as such the rules are generally vague. In some states the landlord can only hold enough to cover "reasonable" fees e.g. for a credit check.
posted by dhartung at 10:08 PM on March 22, 2010


I should have said "on contingency" instead of "pro bono" there. GilloD must have jinxed me!
posted by dhartung at 10:09 PM on March 22, 2010


Write down the events. Write a polite, firm letter stating the events, and asking for prompt repayment. Deliver it in person. No payment? Small claims court. The letter will help you document everything, and a cohesive narrative goes a long way in small claims court.
posted by theora55 at 7:49 AM on March 23, 2010


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