Q: Is it illegal for an agent to cash a money order deposit if we have not gotten an approval or keys to the house?
My husband and I met a Realitor who helped us find a house. We gave her a deposit and app fee. We never heard back from the Agent with an approval or denial. We found out that the money order was cashed, and we still have not received keys, approval, or a denial. Is this illegal? Do we have a case to get our money back? We used money orders and took pictures and have original receipts.
A: It sounds like you're talking about a Realtor who helped you to find a rental home, as opposed to buying. It may not be illegal for the Realtor to cash the check. The Realtor, whether an agent for the landlord or for you, holds the funds in escrow/trust. But if you have not been approved for the rental, or if you will not be approved for it, then the Realtor or landlord should give you the deposit back.
It's unclear from the question whether there was one check for the deposit and application fee together, or whether there were separate checks for the deposit and application fee. Regardless, make contact with the Realtor, find out what the status is on your application, and if your application was not approved, ask the Realtor to give you your deposit back. If the Realtor does not cooperate, talk to a lawyer about possibly sending a demand letter or filing suit to recover the money.
As always, you get what you pay for. Be sure to talk to a qualified attorney about your specific situation before choosing to rely on any information you get from internet discussion boards, such as this one.
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