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Here's a weird one...
Old 03-20-2012, 10:05 PM   #1
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Here's a weird one...

I'm not even sure where a question like this belongs, but since I'm retired (for now) and it involves money...I guess this is the place.

Here's the deal: I'm 56, retired for about a year, but have decided to go back to w*rk. I'm moving from Florida to the west coast to take this job. I've been searching for an apartment (long distance) and found one...I think. I filled out the application etc., and was approved. Today, I mailed my application fee ($40) and deposit ($600.)

A few hours ago, I found a much better apartment on line and would like to pursue that one instead. I know that it's legal, but is it ethical to stop payment on the deposit check (it will take 4 or 5 days to get to the west coast) and pursue the better apartment? Again, I don't have any legal obligation as I see it...but it feels a bit weird.

What say you?
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:29 PM   #2
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I would say the "rightness" of this depends on whether/how long the apartment was off the market as a result of your application. If this has been going on for a month and they've been holding the apartment , then I'd say it's not cool to cancel the enroute deposit check. If you just came to an agreement yesterday, then I wouldn't feel bad at all about cancelling the deposit. But I wouldn't stop payment on the application fee check.

As you say, it's legal to stop payment, and you don't technically have a contract.
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:51 PM   #3
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Thanks. I was approved this morning and sent the checks out this afternoon, so they really only had the apartment off the market for 24 hours. The total deposit was $600, but only half of that was a "hold" fee that would keep it of the market for 3 weeks until I moved in. So 24 hours is hardly a big deal. No, I wouldn't stop payment on the application fee.
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:57 PM   #4
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Since they held the apt for you for such a short time (one day?), I would stop payment on the $640 check and offer to send them a smaller check, possibly equal to the monthly rent divided by the number of days the apt was taken off the market for you.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:47 AM   #5
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Was this all done through an online application process or did you at some point talk to someone on the phone and say you would take the apartment?
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:09 AM   #6
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If you are sure you want to stop the process on the first apartment you can send a letter today by overnight mail explaining that you changed your mind and are canceling the deal and stopping payment on the checks. As long as your cancellation letter arrives before the application it seems to me you are ok.
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Old 03-21-2012, 07:07 AM   #7
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I have no idea what the application states or what the "etc" means, but if you didn't actually sign a lease document you should be able to stop payment and follow through with an email/letter as Michael suggests.
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:04 AM   #8
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Are you sure you can get the better apartment? If so, I would call them and alert them to the change. If not, are you willing to deal with the setback if you end up back at the starting gate?
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:21 AM   #9
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Just call and say you've changed your mind and put stop payment on the checks. To not call is mean ... they'll incur processing fees when they attempt to cash the checks.

Also understand you burnt this bridge ... hope the other apt. works out.
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ARB57 View Post
What say you?
I say, why are you asking this question on an ER forum when you are not planning to stay retired ...
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Old 03-21-2012, 02:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by DFW_M5 View Post
I have no idea what the application states or what the "etc" means, but if you didn't actually sign a lease document you should be able to stop payment and follow through with an email/letter as Michael suggests.
The key IMO is whether a lease was signed as you mention. If so, you've made a commitment and should honor it.

Of course, I'm a landlord, so you may think I'm biased.

I take the deposit money from a tenant as they sign the lease, so once they've paid me, I consider it a deal. To prevent against exactly what you describe, I will only accept (for the first payment) a certified check or cash.

The amount of work that goes into obtaining a tenant is quite high, and for the landlord to have to start over is quite a chore.

I do have an "early lease buy-out" clause that I would allow someone to exercise. They pay rent through the end of the following month, plus $1,000. In your case, since you never lived in the house, I'd be willing to negotiate that $1,000 down....but I'd still expect some of it.
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Old 03-21-2012, 02:40 PM   #12
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I filled out the application etc., and was approved. Today, I mailed my application fee ($40) and deposit ($600
As a landlord, just because I got an application & fee doesn't mean I'll rent to that person. I check out what they've put on the form. If you signed a deposit form ( not a holding fee form) then there has only been an offer to rent, with no acceptance, and at least in CA a "deposit" is fully refundable. A holding fee may or may not be refundable. And the rental was not removed from marketing. Only between acceptance & lease signing is the unit removed from the market. So if you call & tell them you don't want the unit after all and you follow up with an overnight letter, you are under no obligation to pay the 600. If you stop payment on the 600, effectively there is not much they can do.

So I'd stop payment, notify them and forget about it.
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:03 PM   #13
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When people send me money it take 4 days in the mail.

But when I send money in the mail it is always one day.
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:03 PM   #14
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To follow-up....

The second apartment didn't pan out, so I'm sticking with the first. No need to stop payment on anything. Thanks for all the feedback.

Time to find something else to worry about.
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:07 PM   #15
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Good luck on your retirement status change.
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:33 PM   #16
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Keep in mind that stop payment orders expire, after six months, if I remember correctly. It is possible for him to keep the check and put it through six months later for collection. You might want to renew the stop payment order before it expires.
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