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My boyfriend and I are currently in the process of moving across the country, about 650 miles. On September 2nd we visited a property in the area we will be moving to and we really liked it. After getting the info for the available units from the woman in the office we then went online to apply.

We applied for a specific unit, lets just say unit #1A for example. We completed the entire application and paid the application fees and the 'Holding/Starting Security Deposit'(this is the exact wording from the page where we agreed to pay.

We found out 2 days late that we had been approved and I was sent what I would call the welcome packet. These documents specify that we need to have renters insurance and how and when to switch the electric to our names. I also includes a list of the fees paid. On this list is says 'Application Fee Per Applicant: $60x2 PAID' and 'Administration Fee: $150 PAID'. I noticed here that it now says 'Admin Fee' and not Deposit, but didn't much of it.

The next day I received an email saying the lease was ready for us to sign. So I logged in to take a look. When I opened it I noticed that the unit number had changed to unit #B2. I was very confused by this so I called the office, and this is what I was told.

The unit we had applied for and been approved for was actually a renovated unit and we did not apply for a renovated unit. I told the lady that this did not seem right of them to just change the unit on us like this. She told me that we could have the original unit if we agreed to pay the higher price, which is out of our budget. She said that it was IT's fault that it had been listed wrong and that it was now fied.

After I hung up with her I went to their website to check and sure enough the unit #A1 was still listed for the same price we had applied for and been approved for but now with a different availability date.

I have done some looking and it seems to me that since we paid what I was told when paying the fee was the the deposit that they can not switch the unit on us. I have been trying to get ahold of the office now for 2 days with no answer. Plus watching their website and the unit #A1 is still listed for the same price now with another different availability date. They know we are moving from out of state and I do not remember the unit #B2 being listed as available when we did our application.

So I guess my questions are: 1. What should I do?

Can they do this, switch the unit like that? Should I try to push for the original unit #A1? I'm worried if I do this they will treat us horribly during our lease. Should I try to get my money back? If I decided to go with the new unit they assigned should I be worried about them trying to pull of shady stuff? I really don't know what to do but they don't seem to be trustworthy. But I need somewhere to live in two weeks.

Edit: The apartment is in the USA, Georgia.

UPDATE: I spoke to the woman in the office finally yesterday(9/12) she told me that her manager would call me later but I was not contacted.

Instead she called me back later and said they will just give me the original unit and renovate the other instead.

However when I checked last night and again just now my lease papers still say the second unit and the original unit is still listed as available for the same price I applied for it at.

Also I do have proof that according to their payment system I agreed to pay the Holding/Starting Security Deposit not the Admin Fee. This is what it said in their system when I entered my payment information and hit submit for the payment.

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    Do you have your application form? Did it specify the unit there? – ChrisInEdmonton Sep 11 '17 at 21:17
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    Tags for country/state would be helpful. – Joe Sep 11 '17 at 21:45
  • Yes the application was specifically for that unit, but it is all digital and they changed it. But I have proof that it was first for the original unit. Also the apartments in the USA, Georgia. – Sara Way Sep 11 '17 at 22:44
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    If you paid the fees with a credit card (if it was an online application, maybe you did), dispute the transaction as what they sent you does not match your application and seek a chargeback. If by check, ask with your bank if the stop payment window is still open and what fees they charge. – user662852 Sep 12 '17 at 0:42
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Without the specifics of the contract, as well as the specifics of the country/state/city you're moving to, it's hard to say what's legal. But this also isn't law.se, so I'll answer this from the point of view of personal finance, and what you can/should do as next steps.

Whenever paying an application fee or a deposit, you need to ensure that you have in writing exactly what you're applying for or putting a deposit in for. Whether this is an apartment, a car, or a loan, before any money changes hands, you need to get in writing exactly what you're putting that money to.

So for a car, you'd want to have the complete specifications - make, model, year, color, extra packages, and any relevant loan information if applicable. You wouldn't just hand a dealer $2000 for "a Toyota Camry", you'd make sure it was specified which one, in writing, as well as the total you're expecting to pay. Same for an apartment: you should have, in writing (email is fine) the specific unit you are putting a deposit for, and the specific rate you'll be paying, and the length of time the lease is for.

This is to avoid a common tactic: bait and switch, which is what it looks like you've run into. A company puts forth a "nice" model, everything looks good, you get far enough in that it seems like you're locked in - and then it turns out you're really getting a less nice model that's not as ideal as whatever you signed up for. Now if you want to get what you originally signed up for you need to pay extra - presumably "something was wrong in the original ad", or something like that. And all you can hear in the background is Darth Vader... "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

So; what do you do when you've been bait-and-switched?

The best thing to do is typically to walk away. Try to get your application fee back; you may or may not be able to, but it's worth a shot, and even if you cannot, walk away anyway. Someone who is going to bait-and-switch on you is probably not going to be a good landlord; my guess is that rent is going to keep going up beyond the level of the market, and you probably can kiss your security deposit goodbye.

Second, if walking away isn't practical for whatever reason, you can find out what the local laws are. Some locations (though very few, sadly) require advertised prices to be accurate; particularly the fact that they re-advertised the unit again for the same rate suggests they are falling afoul of that. You can ask around, search the internet, or best yet talk to a lawyer who specializes in this sort of thing; some of them will be willing to at least answer a few questions for free (hoping to score your business for an easy, profitable lawsuit). Be aware that it's not exactly a good situation to be in, to be suing your landlord; second only to suing your employer, in my opinion, in terms of bad things to do while hoping to continue the relationship. Find an alternative as soon as you can if you go this route.

In the future, pay a lot of attention to detail when making application fees. Often the application fee is needed before you get into too much detail - but pick a location that has reasonable application fees, and no extras. For example, in my area, it's typical to pay a $25 application fee, nonrefundable, to do the credit check and background check, and a refundable $100-$200 deposit to hold the unit while doing that; a place that asks for a non-refundable deposit is somewhere I'd simply not apply at all.

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    I do have proof that what I agreed to pay was the deposit, then it was switched when they sent me the lease paperwork with the new unit. Most of the places I have looked at in the area have a refundable deposit if you cancel with like 72 hrs. – Sara Way Sep 11 '17 at 22:47
  • Alao thank you for your responses I really appreciate it. – Sara Way Sep 11 '17 at 22:48

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