What are the rules about giving money back if there was no paper agreement, other than a signed check?

UPDATED: Feb 27, 2012

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What are the rules about giving money back if there was no paper agreement, other than a signed check?

I agreed to an apartment and sent a security deposit and first month’s rent which the landlord deposited before I got here. Then when I got here the place was nothing like the pictures – and absolutely filthy. I didn’t sign the lease or move in. He is only giving me the deposit back. Is that legal?

Asked on February 27, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Iowa


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Well what you entered in to was a verbal agreement to rent the apartment. It is a contract and you are bound to the terms.  However, if the contract was entered in to based upon misrepresentation on the part of the landlord that can be an out.  You will need proof (pictures maybe of what it looked like) and then you will need to sue in small claims court.  Good luck.

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