What to do if a security deposit is not refunded?

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What to do if a security deposit is not refunded?

My husband and I applied for an apartmen;t we payed $49 for an application fee and $149 for a deposit. They told usthat it was the last day of the special so if we didn’t apply right then the rent and deposit would go up. A few days later the apartment manager called and said that they could not aprove us as my husband had a misdemeanor on his record,. The misdemeanor was filed as “NFOG” no finding of guilt and we offered to bring paperwork from the county showing that he was not guilty. On top of that, no where on the application did it state that we had to tell them about any misdemeanors – only about felonies. Then they told us that since we didn’t tell them about it in the 1st place (we didn’t know we had to and they never asked), they are keeping our deposit. My husband put a stop payment on the depsoit check (mind you he didn’t stop the application check only the deposit. Now they are trying to say that we have a contract to lease with them and still owe them, what should we do? I don’t want it on our credit.

Asked on October 27, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A security deposit must be refunded; however, an application fee and a deposit to hold an apartment might not have to be refunded, at least if it was disclosed that they are nonrefundable. (To distinguish them: the security deposit is the money a tenant puts down to guaranty and pay for necessary repairs at the end of lease; it is put down when the apartment is leased and has nothing to do with applying for the apartment.)

If you were turned down for the apartment, you can't be held liable for any rent. It is possible, as discussed above, that depending on the circumstances, the language in any applications, what you were told at the time you applied, etc. that the application fee and a deposit as part of the application process might not be refundable.

You may be able to fight this, but to do so, you may have to end up in court, and even small claims court will cost you some money and also take effort on your behalf. You might want to consider whether it is worth fighting over $149.00.


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