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Can the “application fee” paid to rent an apartment be refunded even if the application is canceled?

Shoji Otani2023/09/07

Can the “application fee” paid to rent an apartment be refunded even if the application is canceled?

Q. I applied for a rental apartment and paid the “application fee” to the landlord. However, I later cancelled my application, but the application fee is not refunded. What should I do?


A. If you cancel your application, the application fee must be refunded. If it is not refunded, the brokerage firm will be instructed by the administrative office, so if you make a strong case, you should be able to get a refund.

First of all, the “application fee” (official name: “application deposit”) is paid by the buyer or tenant to confirm the intention to apply and to obtain priority in the purchase, sale or rental of the property.
Therefore, if the purchase or rental is cancelled before the contract is signed, the application deposit is refunded at that time.

However, in the case of consultation, the difficulty is that the other party is the landlord. Since there is no government agency that oversees landlords, there is a possibility that they will not agree to a refund. In order to get a refund from the landlord, you may have to go through the legal process, such as small claims court. However, considering the cost and hassle of small claims court, the amount of money spent on litigation may be more.
On the other hand, if you paid the application fee to the landlord but were referred to the property by an agent, you may be able to hold the agent responsible. One option is to consult or negotiate with the broker.

Difference between “Application Fee” and “Deposit

Do you know the difference between an “application fee” and a “deposit”?
By the way, there is a “deposit” similar to a “filing fee”.
A “deposit” is paid to the seller or landlord when you sign a sales contract or lease. If you cancel the contract, the deposit becomes a “cancellation fee” and is not refundable.
If the deposit is paid to a broker, the broker has received a letter from the landlord acknowledging receipt of the deposit. Therefore, when you pay the deposit to the agent, you must present the letter of authorization.

When paying the deposit, you should also clearly confirm the difference between an “application fee” and a “deposit”.

Written by.

Shoji Otani

Shoji OtaniPresident, Japan Housing Performance

Inspection Association (NPO) / Chairman, Organization for the Promotion of Distribution of Vacant Houses / Former Director, Japan Association of Lawyers for Arbitration ADR
Born in 1948 in Hiroshima Prefecture. In 2004, he founded the Japan Housing Performance Inspection Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to solving housing problems. He advises on contractual issues such as subleases, deposits and guarantees, and victim groups, and negotiates and discusses with relevant government agencies and related companies.

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