Q: I need advice about deposits to hold apartments during application process and the proper documentation procedures.
I signed a contract before applying for an apartment. It stated what the rent would be and agents fee amount and deposit amount. It should be noted it specifically stated the credit check fee was nonrefundable, but did NOT say that the deposit was nonrefundable. Two days later, after determing the agents company was untrustworthy based on new found information I decided i did not want to proceed with signing the lease even though I found out I was approved for the apartment. Now, the agent keeps avoiding my request to have my deposit refunded. She just keeps giving explainations that have no legal support. I have the documentation/receipt and both parties signed that proves It was not written that the deposit would be nonrefundable if I were to choose to pass on the apartment. Now the real estate agent has ceased communucation about my request of a refund. Can anything be done about this?
The law varies between states but generally the terms of the contract (deposit agreement) control the rights of the parties. You state that the deposit agreement does not contain language stating the deposit would be nonrefundable but you haven't said it states the deposit would be returnable. If either party could back out of the agreement without any consequence, what was the deposit intended to secure?
In NYC if you were unable to resolve this type of dispute, you could commence a Small Claims Court case to recover up to $5,000.
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