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Should you get a refund on an apartment rental application fee?

Before paying any application fees, check with the complex and make sure you're seeing the most recent rates
Posted at 1:47 PM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-21 09:37:06-04

PHOENIX — A price of $950 for a two-bedroom apartment... too good to be true?

Rent prices are so high in the Valley, that if you find what looks like a great deal, you might just pay the application fees and grab it.

Sometimes, however, renters find that deal isn't what it seemed.

Shelby Baird thought she'd won the Valley renter's lottery when she saw a listing for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit for $950.

"That's a great price," she said.

In a market where the average apartment goes for about $1,600, $950 for two bedrooms is a deal.

So, Shelby was directed online to Rentcafe and applied, site unseen.

"I spent about $200 on the application fee," she added. To her delight, Shelby got it!

She was approved for a two-bedroom apartment at Palm Crest at Station 40 apartments in Phoenix.

With that approval, it meant paying another fee.

"It was $350 just to hold the apartment," Shelby said.

She's now spent $550, but Shelby says it was well worth it for such a great rate.

If only that was true.

"Then they sent me the moving-in cost sheet telling me the rate was $1,500," Shelby explained.

Wait a minute.

The application Shelby filled out shows $950 for apartment 2084.

How could the same apartment rent go up more than $500 in six days?" Shelby asked.

"The person in front office said our prices have never been that low. They've never been to $950," she said.

Well, now too expensive for Shelby, she asked for her $550 in application money to be refunded.

At first, it seemed that wouldn't be an issue because Shelby got an email saying a refund was on its way.

Months later, however, she still didn't have a check or any answers.

"I reached out again, heard nothing, and this has been since May," she said.

So Shelby let me know, and we contacted Palm Crest at Station 40, but like Shelby, we got no response.

So we went into the office asking when Shelby would get her refund or any explanation and the office told us to contact the property manager, Avenue 5's corporate offices.

We did that and didn't hear anything back, but Shelby finally did.

"I saw something in the mail, the envelope said payment enclosed. I said, 'could it be? Did I get something?'" she said.

Admitting she's been struggling financially, this mom and student got back what was hers.

"It took you basically telling them someone else was involved in this not just little ole me for them to realize that I'm serious," Shelby explained.

The check was for even more than Shelby expected.

"It was a very happy surprise. I really don't think they would have done anything if I hadn't told you guys," she said.

Another problem... solved!

It's great for Shelby. We're glad Palm Crest at Station 40 did the right thing and came through. Better communication is important in these situations. Shelby said no one ever reached out to her.