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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 3006
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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A husband and wife and two children moved into my rental house.

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A husband and wife and two children moved into my rental house. They signed a lease and gave a deposit of $700. The husband moved back to Ohio. The wife filed for divorce. Meanwhile, she is seeing another man. The man has now moved in with her and wants to sign a lease. I have not inspected the house. What are my legal obligations toward the first husband if he wants his deposit back. Should I get the a deposit from the second man who moved in?
You have no obligation to return the deposit to the husband who moved out. The security deposit is meant to secure payment of rent (and to cover repairs) on the current lease which still in effect even though the husband moved out. The wife is still obligated to pay rent on the current lease, and thus you are entitled to keep the security deposit.
If however you want to sign a new lease with the new man and the wife and have this replace the old lease that is up to you. But this would have the benefit of personally obligating the new man for payment of the rent. You can require the new man and the wife to pay a new deposit, in which case you should return the old deposit. You can just return the old deposit to the wife, unless the old lease indicates in some way that the deposit would be returned to the husband or to the both of them.
The issue of the deposit is really an issue between the wife and the husband who moved out. Until the old lease expires or is canceled by a new lease, you are entitled to keep it.
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