If no lease was signed, do I deserve my money back?

UPDATED: Dec 14, 2011

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If no lease was signed, do I deserve my money back?

I paid a man $900 total for renting a room in his house. That was $300 first month’s rent $300 last month’s rent and $300 deposit. However I did not sign a lease. On the day I was meant to move in I got there and the closet in my room was completely still full of the landlord’s stuff. The room was not ready for me and I was not given the space I was entitled to. So I left that day. He gave me back $600 of the $900 but thinks he is still entitled to the additional $300. I signed no lease and was not given space I deserved. He is not losing rent because another room in his house is going unrented. Who is right?

Asked on December 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the premises had been ready for you, he would be entitled to keep the $300, which is one month's rent; that's because when there is no written lease, you are a month to month tenant, which means you have to provide 30 days notice to terminate your tenancy--that in turn means you are always obligated for at least one month's rent.

However, if the premises were not ready for you on the day you were supposed to move in, the landlord breached the contract, and that breach may provide grounds for you to have terminated the lease immediately without penalty.

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