Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Florida

In August, I met with Leah Wiggins of Alta mar at Broadwater apartments. On that day, our first meeting, I explained that I am a student at PTEC st Petersburg for Truck Driving. I live in Palm Harbor. School will end in less than 3 months and I will be living in the truck sooner than 4 months. It would be very nice to live in st pete while in school, I said. Do you offer short term leases like this? Yes she says, for special circumstances, Alta mar does have residents on month to month leases. Well that's perfect! I would like to live here on a month to month lease. Leah even agreed. Perfect, she says. If you like to apply, we charge a $50 application fee. Fine. And we proceeded with the application process. Whenever we met...I'm so glad to see you! You too! How's school? We're making progress! How much time until graduation? Just a couple months. Kevin, how long did you say you needed the apartment? Just until school ends. Fine. She requested and I provided a security deposit for $350. Fine. Then the weekened before move in, Leah sends the lease by email. A long term, 12 month lease. Absolutely not. I drove to alta mar with the lease in hand requesting changes. I'm ready to move in, but you need to change the lease. Alta mar refuses. I call Leah, and we meet the next day. Leah says she can change to a 6 month lease and she will try to find someone to "sell" my lease to if I choose to move out sooner than 6 months. But she might not be able to find anyone. It's too big a risk, so I say no. I'm not signing. When will you return my $350 security deposit? Corporate has it, corporate will mail it within 2 weeks. A month goes by, she doesn't know where the deposit is anymore. She says I should call corporate and she gives the number. I call that number every other for the next month. Never an answer. Multiple voice mails. No call backs. After 2 months of waiting, Alta mar then calls me to tell me that she's keeping my deposit! I never even saw the inside of the apartment. No lease signature. But she says, on the application I filled out, it says if I "cancel the lease on a rented apartment" then the deposit is forfeited. I walked out of there with an unsigned lease still in my hands. I never even saw the inside of an apartment. It seems she's claiming "damages". But doesn't she have the right to rent her apartments upto the day of the signing of a lease? And if there's never a signature, couldn't she continue to rent her apartments? Please help. I don't know what to do to get my money back. I want to avoid court, but am willing to fight them. What to do?

Asked on 11/22/18, 9:04 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Barry Stein De Cardenas, Freixas, Stein & Zachary

You need to hire an attorney. Seek one now.

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Answered on 11/22/18, 10:19 am
Alan Wagner Wagner McLaughlin, P.A.

Lesson learned . . . read what you signed. Not worth hiring a lawyer to fight about $350.

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Answered on 11/23/18, 8:54 am

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