Question Details

J, Other/Just Looking in State College, PA

Having problems with a real estate company in PA; they will not return the Security Deposit and break a lease?

Asked by J, State College, PA Fri Mar 20, 2009

Having a problem with a rental agent in State College, PA. My son and his roommate signed an Application to Lease and paid application fees and a Security Deposit. My son is not eligible to live off campus next year. We contacted the rental agent, explained the situation and was told that as long as that we found replacement tenants, the security deposit would be returned. I found 17 potential renters based on marketing this apartment, plus the boys had already referred two people that have rented from this firm. The Rental Agent then said that they would not return the fees or the security deposit. I wrote them a letter and reviewed the situation again and asked for the fees and security deposit. They responded that they would not return the fees, but they would return ½ of the Security Deposit for referring two renters, and they also want my 17 rental referrals. This does not seem fair. What can we do?? Please help. Time is as the essence.

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I don't know about Pa. but your neighbor to the south, Maryland has some very specific laws protection tenants regarding security deposits. I would contact the licensing authority in Pa. and relay the situation. I would imagine the outcome will be determined by the specific wording of your agreement. Also try a google search for "tenants rights, Pennsylvania" and find out what your options are. Going to court is probably not a viable option since you would probably spend multiples of the amount of the deposit to get anything. If the rental agent knows you know your rights they may tend to become much more agreeable. In Md. improperly keeping security deposits can make the renter/agent liable for up to 3 times the amount improperly withheld. I'm willing to bet Pa. has similar protections.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 23, 2009

Our recommendation is to first obtain all of the documentation your son may have relative to this and carefully review it. This may shed some light on your options from a non-professional position.

Consider putting it in writing that you are now considering taking your cause to the legal level. There are a couple of avenues. You first option may be to be in touch with an attorney for their advice and it may be as simple as them drafting a letter.

Your second option is to explore what in most states, is referred to as "small claims court" which allows a party that feels they have a legal claim, to present it before a judge for their decision. Additional information may be founf on line.

Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 23, 2009

It sounds like you should actually give the 17 references to to them so that they might secure a replacement lease. Just telling them that you know someone that might rent it is not the same as securing another lease with deposits paid.

I would try to get them commit to their original promise of returning the deposit if they get another lease. Get this in writing, and them give them the 17 names.

Other than that, you may need to contact an attorney if you feel it would be worth your time, effort, and costs involved.

Best of Luck,
Dan Mengedoht
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 23, 2009
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