Can a contractor keep my deposit, even though they didn’t do any work?

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Can a contractor keep my deposit, even though they didn’t do any work?

My husband gave a contractor $550 deposit to start work on a garage in august. the contractor knew we wanted it done ASAP so we could get our driveway paved. We called about 3 weeks ago, and he said he wouldn’t be able to do it until now for another 2 months. So we desided to go with someone else. He will not give us our deposit back. He did no work, got no permits, contract did not say he would keep our deposit. So he wants to keep our money for doing nothing, except putting us off. What are our rights? Can he legally keep our money?

Asked on August 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

Andrew Goldberg

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The only way  the contractor can keep your deposit is if you signed a written contract specifying the deposit is nonrefundable. If there is no such contratual clause, I'd recommend that you file a lawsuit in your local District Court. If you win, the District Judge will also award you the costs of filing the lawsuit. If your husband gave cash to the contractor, he may deny receiving the deposit. I would send an email to the contractor to bait him. In the email, ask him if he is going to refund the $550 and, if not, to explain why not because you don't understand. In his reply, he may admit to receiving the $550 and you can use that reply as evidence during your District Court Hearing.


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