Can a realtor keep your security deposit if they changed the terms of the lease before you sign it?

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Can a realtor keep your security deposit if they changed the terms of the lease before you sign it?

I filled out a rental application for a home this month. Realtor said the security deposit would be $1600 (pet fee $350/$1250 a month). She needed me to send the deposit for $1600 to take the house off the market and to prepare a lease. Then 3 weeks later she emailed me the lease and asked for another $1600. When I asked her why it was more than $1250, she stated that it was $1250 for the first month and a $350 pet fee. Online the property stated $1300 for the security deposit; she changed terms. I told her I wasn’t signing the lease and she has refused to return deposit even though it leased again.

Asked on June 27, 2012 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country if one has not entered into a lease and has placed a deposit for the unit, the deposit is required to be returned to the intended tenant. In your case, the realtor's keeping of your deposit is wrongful.

I would write the realtor a letter demanding the return of your money by a certain date. Keep a copy of the letter for future use and need. If the due date comes and goes without the return of your money, small claims court is an option as well as well as a complaint with your state's department of real estate against this person.


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