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I was recently on the hunt for a new apartment. I was worried about some apartments going missing so I applied to more than one. Now I have moved into an apartment and signed a lease but one of the applications is giving me trouble.

The application in question was sent as an attachment to an email saying that the application fee, administration fee, and security deposit were due 72 hours after the application was received. After signing the application and emailing it back, I got an email taking me to a site where I could pay the fees. I hadn't read the original email close enough and thought that the fees were due 72 hours after the application had been accepted.

I got no further correspondence for about a week, and forgot about the whole thing, when I got a phone call saying I had fees due. After some emails with an agent I learned that they had run my application without me paying the application fee and they were going to let me know whether or not I was accepted after I submitted all of the fees/deposits. I re-read the application that I signed and it only mentions the application fee. I went ahead and paid the application fee, but did not pay the remaining balance as I saw no reason to do so. I had not been made aware of any of the above information and it was not in the application. The two remaining fees (administration fee and security deposit) are still unpaid as I feel like I have no legal obligation to pay those fees.

When further questioned, the agent said that the fee is for holding an apartment. I never requested it be held and again, it was not written anywhere that submitting an application was the same as requesting a hold.

Do I need to pay the remaining fees or am I in the right here? Should I seek legal advice? The agent threatened me with attorneys if I do not pay the remaining balance (less than $300).

Edit: this is in Alabama, USA

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    This really needs a jurisdiction, particularly a country. If in the US, you would also want to include the state. That said, I would be utterly astonished if there is anywhere in the world where you could be required to pay a security deposit for applying to an apartment. With a jurisdiction, people could confirm that and possibly suggest next steps, like reporting this as a scam. – Brythan Aug 28 '18 at 3:47
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I am not a lawyer, this should not be considered legal advice, etc. etc. etc.

I, personally, would just ignore them. Really you weren't obligated to even pay the application fee, but that was nice of you and should have been the end of it. You submitted an application, which required a fee to be processed. Without that fee, your application should have just been rejected. The agent went ahead and processed it anyways, which is fine as it could be seen as a goodwill gesture thinking you'd pay later in the process. You've met your obligations and now the agent is trying to milk extra money from you. If you haven't yet, make it clear that you are withdrawing your application for the apartment and are no longer interested in moving in. Send that in writing.

If the agent pushes the whole attorneys thing (which sounds like a total bluff): Before getting your own lawyer involved or paying for professional legal advice, I'd tell the agent to have their attorneys reach out to you through the appropriate legal channels (i.e. in writing) with proof that you owe anything. Only do this if you actually talk to them again. No need to stir it up unnecessarily. If a legitimate attorney reaches out to you about it (i.e. make sure they're real and not the agent pretending to be someone...totally different legal issue there), then you can look into discussing with an attorney.

Good luck, enjoy the new apartment you're actually living in, and be sure to warn your friends not to do business with that particular agent/agency in the future.

  • Agreed. It's a bluff. At most it's a small claims court issue, which is no big deal, and they'll never ever bother with it. I'd feel perfectly fine ignoring them. Stop taking their calls and ignore their emails. – Rocky Aug 28 '18 at 18:52

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