Protect deposit from distressed landlord

Rent it Right

Q: We rent a single-family home from an individual who collected two months’ rent — $9,000 — as a deposit. We’ve gotten several letters for her from a bank, and last week a representative from the bank arrived with some legal papers for the owner and asked us to sign for them.

We got suspicious, confronted the owner, and learned that she’s behind on her mortgage and in danger of foreclosure. Worried about our deposit, we asked if she had it and learned that she has spent it! She claims she’s going to sell the house and will have the money at the end of the lease. But with two months left on our lease, we want to tell her to apply our deposit to the rent — we have no faith that we will ever get it back.