She called me again to thank me for my advice on how to handle the situation and added an element that she had not before. The unlicensed rental agent asked her about an article of clothing that depicted her religion. She corrected him on what religion the article represented. A few days later she received a letter with all of her moneys refunded and a letter revoking the approval. She questioned the unlicensed rental agent who all but told her it was because of her religion. She called the local HUD office where she learned that the landlord had violated the Federal (I should note also the State) anti-discrimination laws. The rest is history. She will likely get the apartment rent- free for a year or two and still be able to sue. Not to mention the fines and other sanctions from HUD. If she then exercises her right to file a State case... .
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination is about the tightest in the nation. You have a right to know their basis for withdrawing their approval.
You do not have to have a signed lease. You only need to have a letter of either disapproval or as in the above case, a letter revoking a prior approval. The laws are slightly different for owner-occupied two-family houses and a few other very narrow categories. The only absolute prohibition is race. However, a real estate licensee CANNOT be involved in a rental that exercises even the properly excepted otherwise illegal discrimination.
You can go to this site for the NJ brochure: http://www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/downloads/kyrhousing02.pdf,
We wish you the best, and will be glad to help in any way we can.
All the more reason to work with a realtor, either buying a home or renting a property.
I hope it works out for you.
What was the reason for the denial? If your timeline is correct and they had no problem with your credit check or income verification and gave you a move in date while accepting your 2nd deposit, I would want to know why they returned your deposits and denied you tenancy. The reason for denial may help us answer your question. Furthermore, did you ever receive a signed lease from the landlord?
You really need the advice of a real estate attorney for this. I believe there are circumstances where you can be denied--ie, if the home is going to be occupied by the owners. Plus, if you never had a signed lease, you may not have recourse.
If you don't want to speak with an attorney, I can get you a copy of the "Truth in Renting" book for NJ. You can look through that and see what recourse you (as a tenant) have. Just email me through my Trulia profile or through my website, below.
It doesn't sound right to me, but without further details, it's hard to say. Please do get the advice of an attorney to help you. I believe in that booklet there are free sources you can reach out to for legal advice. The laws in NJ definately are geared towards helping tenants.