Is it acceptable legal practice to collect a deposit for the rent with the application prior to having the application accepted?

Asked on August 16, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

California, as opposed to other states, has very specific rules regarding security deposits and how they can be used.  It is permissible for a landlord to charge and accept a deposit during the application process.  This deposit may or may not be considered a "security deposit".  It's important that you know if it's a security deposit or a "fee deposit" because you are not entitled to the refund of a fee at the end of the lease or if you are rejected as an applicant.  Here is a link to a site which will help you with that distinction.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Custom and practice in the rental industry is first to accept a deposit for the unit prior to accepting th applicant as a tenant. The amount varies in locale. Once the person is confirmed as a tenant then the written lease agreement is submitted for signature by all parties.

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