Ask Twitter: Non-refundable deposits on rentals, an expensive lesson to learn


The two young women who showed up with checks to rent the third-floor apartment in our building seemed nice. My husband, who is the caretaker of several apartments his family owns, took their checks, had them sign the lease, and expected to see them back on June 1 for their move-in date. He turned away two other seekers and went to bed happy.

The next morning at 7:30am, one girl's mother called. She was practically crying, and started in on a long story with me about how her daughter was in over her head, couldn't afford the apartment and needed her check back. And this was just in twenty seconds until I could hand the phone over to my groggy spouse. He held back from completely blowing his top, but was not exactly yielding about returning any money. The point of a security deposit to hold an apartment is to take that apartment off the market and seal the deal. The custom to make that money non-refundable is a safety mechanism.

What these girls did could have turned out to be an expensive lesson for them. But instead, it turned out to be an expensive lesson for us. My husband ended up giving them back their money and is still trying to rent out our open place.

Would you have given the money back? I turned to Twitter for some advice.