Do I have to give the tenant their deposit back?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I have to give the tenant their deposit back?

In the month of December I had a tenant sign a lease for 12 months. When she signed the lease she only paid 245/425 deposit. After this she never paid the remainder of the deposit. On February 11,2019 I had someone sign a lease for the same property and move in. Now the first occupant who signed the first 12 month lease is asking for her deposit back. Do I have to give her deposit back if she signed the lease and never paid rent?

Asked on February 25, 2019 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Once they sign the lease, they are obligated to pay the rent due under the lease; if they do not, their deposit may be used for their unpaid rent. Based on what you write, if she she signed a lease in December for 12 months and you re-rented the space on Feb. 11th, she would presumably have owed rent for at least the month of January and part of February (to the 10th); the rent for that period of time equals or exceeds $245, you may retain the money.

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