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Ask Curbed: How Much Notice Do I Need to Give To Cancel My Lease Before I Move In?

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A prospective tenant with cold feet and two dogs is wondering how much notice is reasonable to cancel a lease that hasn't begun yet. Can the landlord keep her deposit? "On July 17, 2008, I signed a one year lease to rent an apartment, commencing August 5, 2008, and put a deposit down on the apartment in Malibu. The lease included my two dogs. The landlord was hesitant to lease to me because he was afraid the dogs would bark, chew, and urinate on the vegetation. Six days after I signed the lease and gave the deposit, but two weeks before August 5, the commencement date of the lease, I called the landlord and left a message saying I am really sorry, but I think it's best for all concerned if I don't lease the apartment, because of my dogs.

I too am concerned that they may bark or whine while I'm at work for 9 hours a day, and that they may have accidents in the apartment. I asked him to call me back and to send my deposit check back. He still has two weeks to rent the apartment before I was even supposed to move in on August 5th.
I have not heard back from the landlord and I have not received my deposit check back. Is he entitled to keep any of my deposit money? I never moved into the apartment and I cancelled two weeks before moving in."
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