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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 111549
Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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I am being sent to collections for $625.00 security deposit

Customer Question

I am being sent to collections for $625.00 for a security deposit I decided not to take apartment, so I put a stop payment on check $600.00. now Lewis Operating Corp. added late fee $25.00
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Ely replied 7 months ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms. Did you sign a contract with the landlord/management company, or not? This is not an answer, but an information request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
my daughter and I signed a application to rent lease a 2 bedroom apartment at Homecoming at the Preserve in Chino, Ca. a new complex. On December 26, 2015 I wrote a Check for $600.00 for security deposit and $70.00 for credit check $35.00 each. The apartment would not be ready until January 20, 2016. rent $2,160.00 I am a single parent. I realize that I could not afford the rent even if we were approved. I decided not to take. On December 30, 2015 I called to cancel. They already put the check thru my bank. I put a stop payment on the check. They sent me a letter saying they want the $600.00 plus $25.00 late fee.
Expert:  Ely replied 7 months ago.
Thank you. Okay. So you did break the lease, and they sent you to collections and added a late fee. I understand. So far, this is standard. What exactly is your question, i.e. what is it that you wish to know here? For example: "Can I negotiate the total amount down?""Can I get rid of the $25 fee?"Etc.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I don't want to give them any money since the apartment would not be ready until 01/20/16.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I will be charged $36.00 plus $59.00 just to talk to you
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
hello are you there
Expert:  Ely replied 7 months ago.
Hello, You can request a call. It would be at a premium. If you dothe site allows the expert to opt out of the call request, and I must respectfully ***** ***** not worry - other experts receive the request as well, and they may agree to the call. They will also have your question and my replies to build upon, so nothing will be lost. I'd like to clarify one more thing, please. Thank you in advance for your patience. You state that you signed an application for rent - I understand. But when (what date) was the lease supposed to begin - per the contract?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
01/20/2016
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
hello, required by date 12/29/2015 final approval move 01/20/2016
Expert:  Ely replied 7 months ago.
Thank you. I am going to opt out of your question and open this up for other experts. Your JustAnswer Account has not been charged for this conversation and your question is back in the queue. You do not have to stay online for the question to be active. Should an expert pick it up, you should be alerted via email and/or SMS (text message) unless you actively disable these features. There is no need for you to reply at this time as this will "lock" your question back to me, thus inadvertently delaying other experts' access to it. Good luck.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I am a DIFFERENT CONTRIBUTOR and I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
I am afraid you have a major issue here regarding the lease. Under CA law, once someone signs a lease, they are bound to the terms of that lease. The CA law also does not allow self help, which is you stopping payment on the check. If you had a dispute regarding your lease and the landlord breaching the lease, you had to sue them in court. In fact, the landlord can send your check to the District Attorney for prosecution if you do not make good on the check, as it is a criminal offense of issuing bad checks.
At this point, if you have a dispute with the landlord claiming that the landlord breached the contract you signed agreeing to, then you have to file suit against the landlord in court. If the landlord did not breach the contract you signed and you are simply changing your mind, then I am afraid that legally the court has no choice but to enforce the contract against you and make you pay what you agreed to pay under the contract you signed.
The law in CA says that the whole purpose of written contracts is to bind the parties to agreements they make and if a person signs such a contract and is allowed to simply walk away without penalty, then the written contract is worthless. Just like you would expect the landlord to honor his contract with you, the landlord has the same expectation and the courts will enforce that contract as written.