Am I entitle to get my deposit back after an agreement was signed?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Am I entitle to get my deposit back after an agreement was signed?

Please help I’ve been looking to rent an apartment
in NYU for a while now for me and my mom. I saw
one a couple weeks ago with a broker. I loved the
place. I signed an agreement and gave a deposit.
After I was almost assured that I ‘d get the place, I
was told at the very end that the apt was given to
someone else with better credit. But that the landlord
had another building in another location with an apt
that was going to be vacant at the end of the month.
Because it was through the same broker, they kept
my deposit in the hopes that I’d like the second apt
option. I went to see the second apt and I liked it, so
with all the pressure from the broker, I told him to
move forward with the application since they already
had all my documents from the apt I originally had
applied for. However, my mom still needed to see
the apt. Before my mom got a chance to see the
place, the broker harrassed me to sign a new
agreement with the address of the new place. I
signed the new agreement on Wed. And they use
the deposit I gave for the original apt for the new one
I got offered. The thing is when my mom went to see
the apt on Thursday, she didn’t like it at all, and she
refused to proceed with the application. Does the
broker has the right to keep the deposit 1700? It
doesn’t seem right to me as I felt I got pressure into
signing the new agreement I have the convo on
texts before my mom got the chance to see the new
place. Nobody explained to me that if I backed out
because I didn’t like the apt they’d forfeit my deposit
that I gave originally for a different apartment to
begin with. Please help I can’t afford to lose that

Asked on April 23, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The short answer is, if you not had signed the agreement, you'd be able to get your deposit back, because they breached the original agreement by not conveying the unit you wanted; but because you signed a new agreement for the 2nd unit and let them use the deposit for it, you are obligated to that agreement. If you don't go through with the rental, not only can they keep your deposit, but they could potentially sue you for all amounts due under the agreement you signed (e.g. all the rent you'd have to pay).
You may have felt pressured, but the law doesn't recoginize "pressure" as a reason to get out of a lease or other contract (if it did, then no timeshare or car purchase agreements would be enforceable, because people almost always feel "pressured" to sign those). Regardless of how you felt internally, you had the right to simply say "no," refuse to sign the agreement, and demand your deposit back--or else say "No, I'm not going to sign until my mother sees the unit and sees if it works for her; you can hold onto the money until she sees it, but if we then decide to not take it, we'll need our money back." Having chosen to sign an agreement for the new unit, you are obligated to it, regardless of whether your mother wants to go forward with it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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