Can I recover the deposit for renting a residential property?

Question Details: I have paid the deposit to move into a property, but have not signed the tenancy agreement. I changed my mind about renting the property. Can I recover the deposit?

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

No, you probably cannot recover your deposit. The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 provides that parts of a tenancy agreement that are not in writing can still be enforced. In your case you paid a deposit on the understanding that you were going ahead with the tenancy agreement. From this action you and the landlord appear to have agreed that the that the tenancy would go ahead. That agreement is unwritten, but probably enforceable. It depends on the circumstances, but changing your mind is of itself not good reason to receive all your deposit back. It may also depend on how much deposit you paid, and whether the deposit was an "option" to keep the rental available for you, or whether it was the bond and first couple of weeks' rent. Read more here: www.communitylaw.org.nz or call 0800 TENANCY for more information.

If you cannot agree with your landlord you should look at www.tenancy.govt.nz for information about resolving tenancy disputes.

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