Can Landlord hold deposit without signed lease agreement

UPDATED: May 20, 2009

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Can Landlord hold deposit without signed lease agreement

A rental property handled by a real estate broker and managed by a developer. Payed $35 application fee and $550 deposit. After approval, found out refrigerator is not supplied (wasn’t previously informed). Asked for deposit back. Was told he would hold until decided how much I cost him (developer). Was told he might not return any and had already cashed check (couldn’t stop payment). I live in Georgia and this all occured in less than a week.

Asked on May 20, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Georgia


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

I think you should talk to an attorney about this, one who is familiar with landlord-tenant cases.  There are several ways to find a qualified lawyer in your area, including our website,

It's hard to say whether the landlord was within his rights or not;  in most states there isn't an absolute requirement for a written lease.  But the fact that you didn't sign a lease might work in your favor, here.  Too often, landlords try to take advantage of tenants' lack of knowledge, which is why a lawyer can probably help you here.

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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