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Old 02-12-08, 02:08 PM   #1
eb314
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Legal help

My girlfriend was looking for a new apartment with her sister for next year (college campus.) They found one they liked, went in, gave the security deposit and were told they could come sign the lease in a few days. A few days later, the rental company called and told them that the apartment they looked at and had given the deposit for wasn't available anymore. They offered another apartment near the one they wanted, but this one was much worse; old kitchen (other one was brand new), old cabinets, no hardwood floors, and no A/C. They said they'd install A/C but would then charge them extra, which I thought was stupid. Anyway, they now refuse to give back the deposit, and are saying it's against their company policy because my GF and her sister were offered another residence.

I want to call and talk to them, but I can't find specific laws/rights about this. Most security deposit refund articles I find are about getting the refund back after the lease is over, not before it's even signed. Does anyone know specific rights I can use to prove that they're *******s? I live in Ohio, and here's a link to the page with the lease: http://ohiostaterentals.com/rent_App...licationIE.htm

I also would like to reinforce the fact that no lease was signed. They filled out the application and gave the deposit, and were given the lease to bring back but never signed it, and in the meantime were told that the apartment was no longer available.
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Old 02-12-08, 02:21 PM   #2
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Did the application state the specific apartment that they were making a deposit on?

I'm by no means an experct here, but that's the first question that comes to my mind. The application you linked to has space for that information, but do they have a copy of the application with that information filled in?
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Old 02-12-08, 02:23 PM   #3
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Yes, the address was filled in for the specific apartment. Everything on the form I linked was filled in, and included with the deposit.

edit: I also will just say now that I know that suing them will force them to give it back, but that's last resort to me. I'd rather present them with the right/law that will force them to give it back, and threaten legal action before actually doing it.
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Old 02-12-08, 02:29 PM   #4
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Ohio State must have a Student Legal Services. Have you contacted them?
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Old 02-12-08, 02:31 PM   #5
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Ohio State must have a Student Legal Services. Have you contacted them?
We have an appointment for later in the week, but if I can get this resolved sooner it would be a lot less of a hassle (exams this week.)
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Old 02-12-08, 02:53 PM   #6
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Does Columbus have a Tenants' Union?
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Old 02-12-08, 02:59 PM   #7
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I don't think so. I haven't heard of one, and when I googled it nothing came up.
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Old 02-12-08, 09:22 PM   #8
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PM sent.
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Old 02-12-08, 09:31 PM   #9
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gotta love that bait and switch.
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Old 02-12-08, 09:46 PM   #10
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PM sent.
Thanks for your help, I'll let you know how everything goes.
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Old 02-13-08, 12:11 AM   #11
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Sounds like a visit to the local tenant's council, then perhaps small claims court. I'd consider checking with an attorney if you don't mind paying the money for one.
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Old 02-13-08, 07:55 AM   #12
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The Landlords hardball because they think college students don't know any better. That new apartment might still be avaliable but they just want you to rent out that old one and charge you more for AC. Best bet is to wait for your appt with Student legal services. It will probably be resolved pretty quickly.

We also have a landlord problem down in Athens as they pretty much rule the town and they can because the students don't know better
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Old 02-13-08, 10:42 AM   #13
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Old 02-13-08, 10:50 AM   #14
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You need to speak with a lawyer and have a demand letter sent that threatens legal action (aka, a 'nastygram'). Even if there are no specific tenant laws that are applicable to this situation in your jurisdiction, this should fall under basic contract law.

It really hinges on the terms of the application you filled out and what was said with regard to the deposit. I'm assuming it says they reserve the right to offer a comparable property if the requested apartment is not available. Even if so, you've listed a number of facts that would likely help you succeed in showing that it was "substantially" or "materially" different from what you agreed on (and thus not comparable).

You can't contract for something and have the other party switch it out with something materially different (unless you specifically agree on that beforehand.. which is unlikely). I doubt the terms of that application were that broad.

This shouldn't be relied on as legal advice. I am not a lawyer, only a law student, and this is just my opinion

Student legal services is your best bet. They are often quite competent attorneys with experience in this kind of matter.
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Old 02-13-08, 11:53 AM   #15
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Call the OH state attorney general's office - consumer protection department. I don't imagine these rental laws differ much from OH to WV, and as a college-town landlord, I KNOW I couldn't get away with that!!
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Old 02-13-08, 12:52 PM   #16
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+1 on that. The attorney general is a good place to start. They may not care if 1-2 complaints are given, but given enough, they may get enough evidence for a case.
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