Can I be held financially liable for not moving into an apartment if health and safety issues were not previously disclosed to me?

UPDATED: Apr 2, 2012

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Can I be held financially liable for not moving into an apartment if health and safety issues were not previously disclosed to me?

I put a $200 holding deposit on an apartment. I was told I had 48 hours to change my mind before the deposit was non-refundable. However, the apartment complex failed to inform me of lead and asbestos in the apartment until the day that I was to move in. I would have never applied to the apartment if I had known this beforehand, as I have 2 small children and small animals that love to eat things. They are now sending me to collections to gather the $200 even though I did not agree to the asbestos and lead warning before giving them the deposit. Is this legal?

Asked on April 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country, a landord is required to disclose to a potential tenant all matters that would materially affect the desirability of price paid for a rental that are known. If the landlord knew about lead and asbestos in the unit before you signed your lease, that should have been disclosed to you before you signed the agreement.

In fact, most states in this country have asbestos and lead based paint disclosures in buy/sell or real property matters. From what you have written, it seems as though you should defend the claim against you for the $200. Most states also hold that there is no such thing as a non-refundable deposit to reserve a rental.

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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