My boyfriend and I are currently in the process of moving across the country, about 650 miles. On September 2nd we visited a property in the area we will be moving to and we really liked it. After getting the info for the available units from the woman in the office we then went online to apply.

We applied for a specific unit, lets just say unit #1A for example. We completed the entire application and paid the application fees and the 'Holding/Starting Security Deposit'(this is the exact wording from the page where we agreed to pay.

We found out 2 days late that we had been approved and I was sent what I would call the welcome packet. These documents specify that we need to have renters insurance and how and when to switch the electric to our names. I also includes a list of the fees paid. On this list is says 'Application Fee Per Applicant: $60x2 PAID' and 'Administration Fee: $150 PAID'. I noticed here that it now says 'Admin Fee' and not Deposit, but didn't much of it.

The next day I received an email saying the lease was ready for us to sign. So I logged in to take a look. When I opened it I noticed that the unit number had changed to unit #B2. I was very confused by this so I called the office, and this is what I was told.

The unit we had applied for and been approved for was actually a renovated unit and we did not apply for a renovated unit. I told the lady that this did not seem right of them to just change the unit on us like this. She told me that we could have the original unit if we agreed to pay the higher price, which is out of our budget. She said that it was IT's fault that it had been listed wrong and that it was now fied.

After I hung up with her I went to their website to check and sure enough the unit #A1 was still listed for the same price we had applied for and been approved for but now with a different availability date.

I have done some looking and it seems to me that since we paid what I was told when paying the fee was the the deposit that they can not switch the unit on us. I have been trying to get ahold of the office now for 2 days with no answer. Plus watching their website and the unit #A1 is still listed for the same price now with another different availability date. They know we are moving from out of state and I do not remember the unit #B2 being listed as available when we did our application.

So I guess my questions are: 1. What should I do?

  1. Can they do this, switch the unit like that?

  2. Should I try to push for the original unit #A1? I'm worried if I do this they will treat us horribly during our lease.

  3. Should I try to get my money back?

  4. If I decided to go with the new unit they assigned should I be worried about them trying to pull off shady stuff?

I really don't know what to do but they don't seem to be trustworthy. But I need somewhere to live in two weeks.

UPDATE: I spoke to the woman in the office finally yesterday(9/12) she told me that her manager would call me later but I was not contacted.

Instead she called me back later and said they will just give me the original unit and renovate the other instead.

However when I checked last night and again just now my lease papers still say the second unit and the original unit is still listed as available for the same price I applied for it at.

Also I do have proof that according to their payment system I agreed to pay the Holding/Starting Security Deposit not the Admin Fee. This is what it said in their system when I entered my payment information and hit submit for the payment.

  • I would look at the application to see if there is any pertinent language that you could quote to them. The non-legal considerations probably outweigh the legal considerations in importance, however, because it may not be cost effectively to litigate a dispute even if you are in the right. – ohwilleke Sep 11 '17 at 22:49
  • I don't want to take them to court I know that won t be cost effective. I want to know if what they are doing is or could be considered illegal so I can get out before its too late. – Sara Way Sep 11 '17 at 22:53

If you want to get out, and are willing to lose $270, you can not sign the lease and demand a return of your security deposit. You could ask for a return of the other fees as well, but you are less likely to be successful. They would probably have trouble enforcing a security deposit against you if you didn't have a lease with them, and would probably have trouble demanding you sign a lease when they changed the unit.

You should probably get it all back, because you applied for it, but it probably isn't worth litigating over.

I would also encourage you to turn to social media sites if they have one, or to sites like Yelp, if they do not. Many businesses are sensitive to this and if you are truthful if could provide you with some leverage.

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I am a licensed and bonded landlord and will answer from that perspective. I do not operate in Georgia, however, many state laws are largely the same.

You will have to read your documentation very carefully.

When a landlord shows an apartment, quotes a price, and offers an application, the is an offer and acceptance of the offer under the law. It is a meeting of the minds which is binding assuming a judge can figure out the understanding between parties.

However, the lease is the contract which you do not have to sign. You can simply walk away at this point.

The next concern I have is if the landlord required a holding fee, then they are stuck. If it is an application fee which typically covers costs to processing the application, then the scenario changes. This is where a careful read is required.

Some landlords use a bait and switch tactic. This is often against the law and can be considered fraud. Some states have a small department for tenant landlord complaints other than filing a complaint within the courts. Contact them and they will straighten out the problem fast. Another option is to call the State Attorneys office or a local political representative for help.

Without a review of your documentation, I cannot advise you as well as I would like, however, the bait and switch part of your experience is critical. It may pay to hire an attorney. This does not mean a large fee or going to court. The lawyers can quote the law fast and solve the problem fast. If nothing else, you will either get the apartment for the price quoted or get your fees back. One or the other. As well, you may also get your lawyers fees back.

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  • Thank you I really appreciate you feedback. I think I will do some research and see if the state of Georgia has a tenant landlord department. When I spoke to the woman in the office finally yesterday she told me that her manager would call me later but I was not contacted. Instead she called me and said they will just give me the original unit and renovate the other instead. However when I checked last night my lease papers still say the second unit and the original unit is still listed as available for the same price I applied for it at. – Sara Way Sep 13 '17 at 15:34

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