Holding Deposit Paid, Apartment No Longer Available
July 3, 2012 2:55 PM   Subscribe

I know that a holding deposit prevents the landlord from renting the unit to anyone else. What does it guarantee in the case that the tenant currently living in the unit decides to stay? (California)

I am looking to move from my current apartment to a smaller one with my two roommates. We had everything set to end our lease here on the 15th this month, start the lease on a new apartment on the 12th. We applied and were approved, and paid the holding deposit.

Just now we got a call that the tenant currently living in that apartment has "cancelled their notice" and will not be moving out, but another apartment will be available at the end of the month. Our lease here is still ending in two weeks, and we don't know if they'll let us extend it (again).

What are our rights here? Obviously if the previous tenant doesn't move out, we can't move in, and I doubt they can be forced out - but is the landlord on the hook for extra costs incurred to us? What do we do if we have to move out half a month before we can move into the other apartment?

We are moving from Roseville, CA (Placer County) to Citrus Heights, CA (Sacramento County).
posted by WasabiFlux to Law & Government (4 answers total)
The landlord has rented the unit back to the original tenant. I assume they gave notice in writing, so they did not have a current lease saying they would be renting it. So from a holding deposit standpoint, this seems just the same as if they'd rented it to a random guy on the street, and the same advice applies:

California Tenants: Suppose that the landlord rents to somebody else during the period for which you've paid a holding deposit, and you are still willing and able to move in. The landlord should, at a minimum, return the entire holding deposit to you. You may also want to talk with an attorney, legal aid organization, tenant-landlord program, or housing clinic about whether the landlord may be responsible for other costs that you may incur because of the loss of the rental unit.
posted by jacalata at 3:14 PM on July 3, 2012

- I'd want to see the other unit being offered before agreeing to anything.
- They at least owe you your deposit back. Immediately.

If the new unit isn't comparable or better (be picky! Don't settle!!) take back your deposit from these people ASAP, and quickly find another, more suitable, apartment.

You might be able to take them to small claims, but since they offered you another unit, some of your costs (hotel? Extra rent at current location??) might be tough to recover, AND you'd be in small claims court with your landlord (if you took the other apartment they offered.)

Honestly? Just get your money back (try for credit check monies, or at least get your credit check paperwork from these folks - you paid for the credit checks - you are legally entitled to that paperwork) and go find yourselves a great new place to live.

I know it sucks. This is my best advice. I know a lot about renting in CA. You have almost 2 weeks to sort something else out, just get your money back and move past this unfortunate turn of events.
posted by jbenben at 3:14 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd request getting my money back and then I'd go about finding a new place.

There are tons of nice rentals in Citrus Heights go out and find one that's just as good or better.

I wouldn't fool around with this guy, there's too much at stake.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:32 PM on July 3, 2012

A holding deposit without a contract doesn't guarantee you anything. They can do what they like as long as they give you the money back.
posted by w0mbat at 8:10 PM on July 3, 2012

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