What are my rights if I bid on a women’s apartment to paint her house and she gave me a non-refundable deposit and now wants it back?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are my rights if I bid on a women’s apartment to paint her house and she gave me a non-refundable deposit and now wants it back?

I bid the job for $700 total. After that I told her I would need half up front to secure the job non-refundable. After some time she changed her mind, cancelled the job and wanted her money back. I reminded her it was non-refundable and refused. She has since sued me and I’m due in court next month. The sticking point is we didn’t have any of this in writing. She’s claiming I didn’t tell her when in fact I did explain to her thoroughly that the deposit was non-refundable. Who do you think will win in this case?

Asked on October 22, 2015 under Business Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You will probably win, or at least seem to have  the odds in your favor:
1) Typically, deposits are not refundable when the customer cancels; usually, they rare refundable when the business/contractor can't or won't carry through or do the work. So assuming she admits that she cancelled, right there, the presumption is that the deposit is non-refundable.
2) As the person suing, the burden of proof is on her; that means that she needs to be *more* believable or credible than you--not by a lot, but at least by a fraction. If the two of you are equally credible, you win.

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