12 On Your Side: Woman says she lost $500 deposit on home she never rented

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Sept. 13, 2013


AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW) -- "It's depressing knowing that he can just take someone's money," says Roneisha Sneed. She says she had every intention of renting a home she found listed on Gosection8.com.

So she contacted the property owner. "He let me look at the home and I gave him a $500 deposit," says Sneed. But after giving it some thought, Sneed says she called the owner a few days later. "I told him that I was no longer interested in the home and he told me that's no problem because I still have people calling looking for the home," says Sneed.

She says she thought a full refund of her security deposit was a sure thing, considering she never lived in the home.

"I never signed any lease agreement, he never gave me a key or anything to the home," says Sneed. But she says the owner told her that he is not going to refunding any of her money. "I never had any problems getting the security deposit back from anywhere I've ever lived before," says Sneed.

News 12 investigated Sneed's situation, even contacting the property owner to see if he would refund her money. We never heard back.

But according to Georgia law, a landlord does not have to refund a security deposit even if a person decides not to move into a property unless both parties have a prior signed agreement. The law also says a deposit is a good faith payment which would require a landlord to hold the property by taking it off the market.

"He's been renting homes for ten years and he knew what he was doing and he's obligated to keep that $500," she says. And even though it is the law she says it is just not right. "I don't have $500 just to give away," says Sneed.

While she did have a written receipt for her security deposit, what she did not have was a written statement signed by both her and the landlord stating what circumstances would entitle her to a refund.

Now, if you are already renting a property and plan to move but wish to get your deposit back, landlords must return security within one month unless you owe rent, late charges, or you have damaged the property. Check out your state's legal aid agency for more information.