Do you know if it would be possible for someone else top take the rental, for example is it a popular area where others may be interested in garage rental?
Generally, when a person pays a deposit they enter into a legally enforceable contract with the other side. It is implied that they have accepted the deposit as security and as proof that you want to proceed with the contract.
Unless the other side subsequently commits a serious breach of contract, or there was a termination clause, you would have no legal right to cancel the agreement and if you do so you will be acting in breach of contract. You not only risk losing the deposit but also being pursued for any other losses the other side may have incurred as a result of your cancellation, such as lost revenue.
However, they would have a duty to mitigate their losses as soon and as much as possible, so that would most commonly involve them trying to find a replacement to rent the garage instead of you. If that happens they would have mitigated their losses and you would not be responsible for any further losses, apart from potentially losing the deposit, or part of it.
As this was a private owner, then they will not be subject to stringent consumer laws in terms of keeping a deposit. Still, they should not use the deposit to make a profit when they have not actually suffered any losses or their losses are minimal. This would be considered unjust enrichment and you can challenge that if necessary by arguing that it potentially amounts to a penalty clause, which is an unfair contractual term and unenforceable. As long as the deposit is reasonable and serves to compensate them for any losses suffered as a result of your breach of contract, they would usually be able to keep it.
You may still argue that what they are doing is unfair and that unless they can justify that they have incurred genuine expenses they need to return the deposit. You could also make it clear you would not hesitate suing them to recover the deposit. Exerting such pressure may work in getting your deposit back, but if it does not it is up to you to decide whether you actually want to go to court over this.
Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks
No, there is still a contract in place where you have agreed to rent the garage so whether you are waiting for the rental to start or it has already started - you would still have committed to renting the space for 6 months so the agreement would already be in place
Has this clarified?
you are most welcome, all the best to you too