Troubleshooters: are application fees for rental properties refundable?

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Posted at 6:16 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 19:58:20-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — This is really more of a consumer story than a Troubleshooters story. It's about the applications deposit you put down when applying for a rental property.

You're going to hear from a woman who wants to know why she had to call us for help getting her deposit refunded. She read from the Texas Property Code Section 92 Subsection 3155; that states, "If a landlord rejects your application, and did not provide you notice of your right to review the tenant selection criteria when you applied, the landlord must return the applicants fee and any application deposit."

That's why Andrea Dasilva says she contacted the Troubleshooters. She claims she's owed at least $100 from two different realtors.
She and her family want to move into a different rental property, but keep getting denied, without, she claims, a reason.

"It should say on the application in bold or underlined 'you have the right to review the tenant selection criteria before you sign or fill out this application.' And none of the applications that I've been filling out have that."

So Dasilva field a complaint with the Texas Real Estate Commission claiming, "we were never given tenant selection criteria to review which is required by law and we were rejected based on credit scores."

In response, the TREC wrote, "the issues raised in your complaint are out of our jurisdiction, because whether a tenant application is accepted is up to the property owner, we cannot require a license holder to return an application fee.'

We contacted the two realtors Dasilva claims owe her money. Both returned our call. Both said "the check's in the mail."

We also contacted Gary Allsup, chief executive officer with the Corpus Christi Housing Authority, about this issue.

He said when it comes to their properties, application fees are non-refundable because they cover the cost of doing the background check.

If the applicant is denied, only the security deposit is refundable.