Authored By: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
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When you apply to rent a residence, some landlords charge a nonrefundable application fee to pay for the costs or screening a rental application. They may also ask for an application deposit, which is refundable to you if you are rejected as a tenant. Typically, if you are accepted as a tenant, your application will provide that your application deposit is converted in all or part into your security deposit.
When you are provided with a rental application, the landlord must make available to you a written notice of the selection criteria that will be used to determine if your application will be accepted or denied. The notice must state that if you do not meet the selection criteria or provide incomplete information, your application may be rejected and your application fee will not be refunded. These selection criteria may include criminal history, previous rental history, current income, credit history, or failure to complete the information on the application.
If a landlord does not give you any notice of the acceptance of your application, your application is considered rejected after seven days from the date you submit a complete rental application. If the landlord does not give you a rental application, and the landlord does not give you notice of acceptance of your application, then your application is deemed rejected seven days after the landlord accepts your application deposit. If the landlord rejects your application but did not give you notice of the selection criteria, the landlord must return your application fee and any application deposit. The landlord must mail you a refund check at the address you provide.
If a landlord acts in bad faith by failing to refund your application fee or deposit, the landlord may be liable for $100, three times the amount wrongfully retained, plus your reasonable attorneys fee.