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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Post Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: FL

    We (myself and 4 other friends) applied for a house July 30th and were approved. On August 3rd, we put down a security deposit on the house of $2265. The house would not be ready to move into until at least September 28th and the lease would be for a year. We never signed the lease since the landlord lives out of state and hadn't sent it to the realtor yet. Yesterday, August 30th, we informed them that we are not going to rent the house anymore due to some financial/personal reasons that have come up since putting down the deposit. The property management group is not going to give us our money back since we signed the application which says "All deposits are non-refundable." Yesterday when we talked to them on the phone about not moving in, we were told that many people were interested in the house and that the only reason we got it was because we were willing to pay more. Since there's still a month before the house can even be moved into and it was never truly taken off the market (it is still on several rental sites), we believe that they will easily find a replacement tenant. Is there any way we can get our money back, or at least part of it? Does Florida Statute 83.49 work in our favor or can be used to get the deposit back? I just want to see if we have any options at all! Thank you!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    If you are telling us that you signed an agreement in association with your deposit that provides, "all deposits are nonrefundable", then (assuming you've shared all of the relevant facts and contractual language) you agreed that your deposit would be nonrefundable if you chose not to move in.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    as to a deposit not being refundable; that surely defeats the purpose of a security deposit, doesn't it? A security deposit must be refundable even if only at the termination of the lease. Therefor, claiming it is not refundable is impossible. I suspect they mean it is not refundable if a lease is not entered into but that too is a problem.

    Now, if it is described on your receipt or some other documentation as a holding fee, I believe you are screwed.

    So, was your money paid described as a holding fee or a security deposit?

    You didn't mention it but just for clarity; any application fee or similar fee is rightfully retained by the prop manager.

  4. #4
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    Aug 2012
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    Default Re: Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    We were under the impression that it was a security deposit. What happened was we sent in an application with a $50 fee. A few days later we got a text from the realtor saying that we were approved and needed to bring $2265 to the property management. That was it.

    I looked back at the application and saw this, "RENTAL DEPOSIT AGREEMENT. Applicant has deposited an “RENTAL DEPOSIT” of $______________in consideration for taking the dwelling off the market while the application is being processed. If applicant is approved by Landlord and/or Management and the lease is entered into and possession of the apartment is taken the “RENTAL DEPOSIT” shall be applied toward the security/damage deposit. If applicant is approved, but fails to enter into the lease within 3 days of verbal and/or written approval and/or take possession after lease signing, the FULL “RENTAL DEPOSIT” shall be forfeited to the Landlord or Management in addition to any penalties as provided in the lease if the lease has been signed by the applicant. The “RENTAL DEPOSIT” shall be refunded only if applicant is not approved. Keys will be furnished only after lease and other rental documents have been properly executed by all parties and only after applicable rentals and security deposits have been paid. This application is preliminary only, in no way implies that a particular rental unit shall be available and in no way obligates Landlord or Management to execute a lease or deliver possession of the proposed premises."

    There is a blank to fill in for Rental Deposit, which when I looked back at the scanned copies of our application was not filled in. Since there was no verbal/written agreement on that, could that be used in our favor?

    It also looks like the rental deposit was just to hold it while our application was being processed, and we never paid a rental deposit to hold the house while the application was being processed.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I also found this post on here about a similar situation in Florida. I was looking over 83.49 especially with regards to deposits. What would this guy have written to get them to give him the deposit back? It was even a holding deposit and the guy managed to get it back.

    http://www.expertlaw.com/forums/show...066&highlight=

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    Applicant has deposited an “RENTAL DEPOSIT” of $______________in consideration for taking the dwelling off the market while the application is being processed.
    that's pretty clear to me and it should be to you. Even if it was not filled in, it is obvious what the intent of the deposit was.

    I think you lose on this one.

    as to the other thread. This is an excerpt:


    Their attorney contacted me this morning and agreed to refund 75% of my deposit money, which I think is reasonable.
    I think it was simply the LL not wanting to hassle with it and was willing to accept 25% as enough.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    Given that ambiguities in a contract are to be construed against the party that drafted it, absent some additional evidence of the parties' understanding there's a plausible argument that as the space was not filled in, the deposit was not intended to be made "in consideration for taking the dwelling off the market while the application is being processed" and is thus refundable.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    Ok, let me back up a bit more:



    does OP have a receipt for the $2265? If so, what does it state on the receipt as to what it was for?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Default Re: Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    We have a receipt but it doesn't say on it what it was for--just the date and the amount

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    well, all you can do is make a demand for the return of the deposit. If they refuse, you can either accept it or sue them. The amount would fit in Florida's small claims court. It looks like it would cost $300 to file the case. There there are fees for service.

    I can't say if you would win or lose. That is up to the judge. Mr. K (a really smart guy) has stated a possible argument (a couple posts back).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    4

    Default Re: Can We Get Deposit Back if We Didn't Sign the Lease

    Ok thanks for your help. We're going to write a letter and send it using certified mail. In the letter, should we talk about the ambiguity of the deposit and that argument? I'd imagine so, right? Or is that something that would be saved for court?

    And in the letter, do we say that we will take them to small claims court if they refuse? Not sure if that's something we mention or not

    Sorry if those are dumb questions--just trying to figure out the best way to go about it

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