Rental "holding fee"

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Rental "holding fee"

Postby SummitSeeker » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:57 pm

I am moving to a new place soon, and put down a "holding fee" on an apartment. This is managed by a local professional management company. We haven't yet signed the lease- if we sign, the holding fee is converted to a security deposit. The problem is now I've found a similar place for $200/month less. Can I back out since I haven't signed a lease and get the "holding fee"/security deposit back? The only thing I have signed so far is the credit check/application form.
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Re: Rental "holding fee"

Postby Haybaler » Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:01 pm

I'm wondering why you don't already know the answer to your question. Didn't you ask what the refund policy was when you paid the fee?

If you had given me money to hold a unit off the market and then changed your mind I would expect to retain your money as "liquidated damages" for the "consideration" of taking the unit off of the market for your benefit.

The terminology is different from a "deposit", but what did you think you were paying for? There has to be some benefit you derived and some consideration paid for that benefit.

I suggest you just lease the cheaper place. To make yourself fell better, calculate how long it will take you at $200 p/mo rent savings to recoup your "fee" expense.
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Re: Rental "holding fee"

Postby SummitSeeker » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:14 am

It didn't occur to me at the time because there was no paperwork signed and no mention that it was non-refundable. I've never before made a "purchase" that large that was totally absent paperwork or disclaimers. Now that I think about it, I believe all real-estate transactions must be in writing- there are no verbal contracts in real estate. This property manager is a sneaky devil. Shields up for all future interactions.
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Re: Rental "holding fee"

Postby SummitSeeker » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:26 pm

Looks like I can back out after all, since no paperwork was presented:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=59.18.253
RCW 59.18.253
...
"(2) A landlord who charges a prospective tenant a fee or deposit to secure that the prospective tenant will move into a dwelling unit, after the dwelling unit has been offered to the prospective tenant, must provide the prospective tenant with a receipt for the fee or deposit, together with a written statement of the conditions, if any, under which the fee or deposit is refundable. If the prospective tenant does occupy the dwelling unit, then the landlord must credit the amount of the fee or deposit to the tenant's first month's rent or to the tenant's security deposit. If the prospective tenant does not occupy the dwelling unit, then the landlord may keep up to the full amount of any fee or deposit that was paid by the prospective tenant to secure the tenancy, so long as it is in accordance with the written statement of conditions furnished to the prospective tenant at the time the fee or deposit was charged. A fee charged to secure a tenancy under this subsection does not include any cost charged by a landlord to use a tenant screening service or obtain background information on a prospective tenant."
...
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