Rentals in Laguna Hills>Question Details

Roxanne Broo…, Renter in Irvine, CA

Is it appropriate for a landlord/realtor to ask for your security deposit before you have signed a lease?

Asked by Roxanne Brooks, Irvine, CA Thu Feb 23, 2012

We were selected as the tenant for a Condo, we were informed on Tuesday due to our Jobs we said we would review the lease the next day and bring the cashier check and the signed lease to the agent. By Wednesday morning the Landlord/Realtor said if we did not give her the deposit by the end of the day that she would give the unit to a couple that would move in 1 day earilier. We refused as no lease had been provided. Red Flag. We told our realtor that this was irrational and did not want the condo. Is it normal to give a large deposit before you even receive a lease? New to the leasing world. Thanks for your help.l

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Chuck Chawson’s answer
The Lease is a binding agreement. The lease agreement stipulates the terms of the Lease. The terms of the lease determine when a deposit becomes due. A contract (as a Lease Agreement) can only be enforceable once its fully executed by all parties. Once you have fully executed contract then the deposit and/or 1st months rent is then due. So, I wouldn't give any money to anyone unless you have a fully executed agreement.

Best regards,
Brian Head, Realtor
Joel Feinstein Law
949 306-3556
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 28, 2012
I had a lazy C/B agent try to do this with me, last year - with her manager's blessing, I must add.

When I squawked about it being unprofessional, and probably ILLEGAL, she rejected my clients, and chose another tenant. ( In spite of the fact that they had passed muster on all her other requirements.)

I'm STILL thinking of filing a grievance against her, and I really should.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
No. There is no reason for you to hand over any money prior to having a signed agreement. Look elsewhere.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
I would say no... I wouldn't give anyone any money before I saw a lease and signed it. Reading your question gave me a weird feeling, and it seems the landlord/realtor is being a bit pushing. I'd look else where, this may be a sign of what's to come. Just my opinion...

1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
Your deposit is due upon signing as would have been any other fees or rents asked for at time of signing. The fact that a Realtor went to the trouble of saying pay right this minute or lose the rental is just fishy in all the words that can describe fishy. Please find a better rental and a more honest Landlord!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 29, 2012
All the agents here have been very helpful and supportive. What a great resource! Thank you all. Roxanne
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 29, 2012
Roxanne, you may not realize, but posted below are answers from some of the best agents here in OC and some great advice from Chuck. No need to chime in here.

Bob, I'd totally file a grievance :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 29, 2012
A deposit is only a deposit. You are telling everyone that you are serious. Signing a lease is solidifying everything.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 29, 2012
Great answer from a very astute homebuyer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 28, 2012
It certainly smells rife with suspicion to me. I'd be very careful and be sure to check their qualifications out thoroughly. A professional RE property manager should know better.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 24, 2012
Hello Roxanne,

By now I imagine you get the picture, no fully signed lease/contract no money.

Maybe you could have provided a copy of the cashier's check to satisfy the owner/leasing agent of your intent. Normally, when I represent the owner, I would write the lease, have the owner review it then once the owner approves it I would send to the applicant (or their agent) for their signatures. When I receive that back signed by the tenants from the tenant's Realtor I would then have the owner sign and then provide the tenants their copy in exchange for the cashier's check and any other required items.

Sorry to say there are some in this industry that are not as ethical as they should be and give the rest a bad name. I am glad you reacted to the red flag and were not so emotionally attached that you had to have it, I hope your Realtor was also on alert after that. Sounds like the owner/agent was a bit desperate to get the home leased.

Brian Wilson, Realtor
DRE #01321478
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
HI Roxanne,

Hopefully your agent knows also that you do not give any money with out a signed lease agreement... I have been doing leases for about 25 years and this does sound alarming.. Kudos to you and your agent if they concern the same as you... I would call the agents broker and let them know the problem that came up and maybe this agent is not telling the landlord what the laws are and how they can do things.. There is a number to call and a website that helps tenants and landlords...There are alot of scams in the market especially the internet these days..

Good Luck and sorry to here you maybe not be getting the place.

Ingrid SKi Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
I have managed property in Orange County for over 8 years and have never asked for or taken funds from a prospective tenant in advance for anything other than running credit. It is normal to give the security deposit at the same time you sign the lease if you are not moving in till the first of the following month. If you credit has issues then a larger deposit maybe required by the owner, but there is even a company that will co-sign with you if need be for a fee. It is good that you are being proactive in protecting yourself in this matter. I would be happy to assist you in finding another place if you are looking in the south orange county area.
Lori Hanson
OC Homes Realty
714-585-5236 Cell
DRE 01405146
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
If this Realtor / leasing agent is NOT the Broker of her company, then make a phone call TO the Broker & express your concerns. That you would like the condo but don't want to give any money until you have a signed lease in your hands. You should show a bank statement where it shows you DO have the funds necessary.
Check here to see if the leasing agent is the broker of her company:
Type in the name like this: Smith, Jane

I'm glad to hear you are using a Realtor to find a place, if you get this place Or need to continue searching, please also click on my profile here on Trulia & read my 2 blog posts called "RENTAL SCAMS - RED FLAGS - PUBLIC BEWARE" .

I don't look back on this same Trulia thread for answers posted after mine.
562-430-3053 c
Realtor Since 1996
Main Street Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 23, 2012
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