Can I get my rental application fee back (along with all my rent and deposit fees) if the landlord cancels our signed and paid for lease agreement before I move in?

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Can I get my rental application fee back (along with all my rent and deposit fees) if the landlord cancels our signed and paid for lease agreement before I move in?

Asked on October 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if the landlord refuses to go through with the transaction and/or cancels your signed and paid for lease, you should get your rent and security deposit back--the landlord is not entitled to take your money while not providing you the rental premises he agreed to provide; doing so is, depending on the exact circumstances, breach of contract (a lease is a contract), breach of the implied covenant (or duty) of good faith and fair dealing (the obligation to deal in good faith with other parties to a contract) and/or fraud. If the landlord will not return these voluntarily, you could sue him to recover them.

The landlord may be able to keep the application fee if it was disclosed to you, prior to you paying the fee (e.g. on the application form), that this fee was nonrefundable; nonrefundable application fees are legal except in the case of fraud (except when you can show the landlord was basically lying from the start and never had any intention to rent to you).


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