What is a move-in fee?

UPDATED: Jan 6, 2013

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What is a move-in fee?

Can it be $450 for a deposit and the landord says it was a move-in fee instead of a deposit and not pay us back?

Asked on January 6, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A move-in fee is legal IF it was disclosed, prior to you paying it, to be a nonrefundable fee (such as a cost for the application and any background or credit checks; for preparing the unit; etc.). If it was not disclosed to be nonrefundable fee, it would ordinarily be considered a deposit--so the  issue is, what was it called before you paid it: move-in fee or deposit? What controls is, as stated, what it was called *before* paying.

Note that deposits, however, are not always returnable, either--for example, if you put down a deposit on an aparmant, the landlord was making the apartment available to you, but you decided to not go ahead with the rental, the landlord would ordinarily be entitled to keep the deposit. In that case, you breached the agreement to rent and the landlord can keep the deposit as damages.

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