Couple fights for rental deposit back due to dangerous home

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A metro couple says a rental house landlord refuses to give them their deposit back, even though they have yet to move in because of pending repairs.

Montana Dell'antonia and his wife Angel recently found a home to rent in the 2100 block of SW 35th in Oklahoma City, on the Craigslist website.

They had to find a new home after the balcony of their apartment unit collapsed and the complex needed to have repairs.

They say they paid a $300 deposit to the landlord, Dragan Grubisic, and signed a lease - but did not receive a copy of that lease.

Dell'antonia says after signing the lease, Grubisic told them, contrary to earlier promises, repairs to the windows and floors of the house would not begin until their move-in date of August 9th.

The couple has a three-year old son who, they say, could be injured on the damaged floors.

So they asked for their deposit back, but they say Grubisic refuses to do that.

We stopped by Grubisic's home in SW Oklahoma City and we were told by someone inside that he was not home, but he was in town. As of Thursday afternoon, our message was not returned.

Attorney Aaron Stiles, with the Downtown Legal Group in Norman, says a landlord is not obligated to return a deposit before the move-in date.

At that time, if the rental property is not habitable, he says the tenants can request their deposit back in writing.

Stiles says a landlord has 30 days to return deposit money after receiving that request. Refusal to do so could end up in small claims court.

Dell'antonia says Grubisic has blocked their phone calls and told them they would have to go to court to get their deposit back.

Stiles says the money still belongs to the renter, and says a landlord has to keep any rental deposit in a federally insured trust or escrow account at an Oklahoma bank - or they could face a misdemeanor charge and up to six months in jail.