Know your rights: Getting your security deposit back when apartment plans fall through

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Imagine finding a new place to live, putting down a deposit, and then when you’re ready to move in, it’s no longer yours.

When Ebony Loving found an apartment complex she wanted to live in, she filled out an application, took a tour and paid the security deposit. So, imagine her surprise when she was told the unit she wanted was no longer available.

“First it was, oh, I never made my deposit, then his own paperwork shows I made my deposit, then secondly, it was, oh there’s some confusion with the names being similar,” Loving said. “Well, even with that name case, I’m here for a two bedroom, never had an interest in a one bedroom. It’s not the same address, then it became, oh well, somebody came and made a deposit before you, well at this point, if that’s the case I want proof, nobody called me.”

Loving was counting on the $635 to find a new place. She was given an apology for the confusion and a promise for a speedy return of the deposit.

“Why would you cash that without consulting me and letting me know that my apartment was no longer going to be available?,” Loving said.

John Tsuchima of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus says Loving should have her deposit returned, plus Ohio law is in her favor.

“There’s kind of a gray area whether or not, if you didn’t move into the place you actually have what’s legally considered a rental agreement, Tsuchima said.”But that doesn’t mean you can’t get back that security deposit the only difference is whether or not there are statutory damages that can be attacked to that as well.”

The Legal Aid Society is a free service that can help you. It’s a non-profit organization staffed by talented attorneys.

You can contact them at 614-241-2001 or toll free at 1-888-246-4420. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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