My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Florida
I found a Marathon Florida vacation rental on the internet (owner lives in Miami and I live in Lee County). On my initial conversation with the rental agent I was told:
1. It is available
2. The deposit to hold it is $2,100
3. The remainder of the money is due 90 days prior or my reservation could be cancelled.
4. You will get an email confirmation and the lease will be sent out immediately. Sign and Send it back within 14 days.
I gave my American express card for deposit.
What I didn't know and was NOT disclosed by the rental agent on the phone is that if I want to cancel the reservation I must do so within 120 days of arrival or incur a $1,250 penalty. When I called and made the deposit, it was 121 days from arrival!! This means that $1,250 of my deposit is non refundable the very next day. I didn't know this until days later (I don't use my computer daily and didn't read emails over the weekend, which is when the confirmation email came) when the lease that I was supposed to sign and return came in the mail. By that time I was already in the 120 day window and my $1250 was now non refundable.
Circumstances forced me to cancel (2 weeks after our initial conversation) and the owner won't refund my money. I never did sign and return the lease. (The first paragraph of the lease starts out: REservations are not guaranteed until onwer receives the attached RENTAL AGREEMENT with signature. This contract must be returned and signed within 14 days or initial deposit or the reservation may be cancelled.)
His arguement is that the email included this information and that was sent the day of the deposit. For him it is pretty much black and white.
I acknowledge that an email was sent, however, I did not read my emails for the rest of that day or the following 2 days.
My argument is that due to the fact that the deadline for cancellation was literally within 8 hours.....I should have been told verbally when giving the credit card number. I think that by not telling me they are negligent as I would NOT have given my credit card due to that fact. My plans were not solid enough to risk losing that money. I feel taken advantage of.
Do I have a case to get my money back? Is this best in small claims or any advice would be appreciated. Can I file in my home county?
I am not considering the lawsuit only because I want my money back...I really feel wronged...If I had been made aware at the time of deposit and chose to go ahead with the reservation I would suffer the consequences like a "big girl". I truly feel as if this person had a responsibility to inform me of the cancel policy since it was so imminent. From a legal standpoint..do I have a case?