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He cannot. Before he is entitled to keep any of your money, there would have had to have been a full accord and satisfaction regarding your agreement to lease the house. A full accord and satisfaction requires that you agree to the terms and conditions of the lease. There is no way you could have done that without even having been presented a contract to review. So, if the landlord won't return all your money, file suit against him. If the claim is $6,000 or less, you can do this without an attorney. And, let him know if forced to sue you will be seeking not only your money returned but punitive damages
for withholding it in bad faith. Filing the suit will give you the collection options and leverage you need to collect the debt owed you. That's because once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if he doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on him for a debtor examination. That forces him to meet you in court again and answer questions under oath about his assets. After that information is obtained, you have the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead
property he owns to satisfy the judgment. In my experience, simply filing the suit is typically all you need to do to resolve this outside of court because most of the time, once served with a summons he is being sued, he will pay you rather than risk the judgment and punitive damages on a suit he has no chance of winning.
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