While searching for a rental property, a tenant may find a desirable property which is available before the tenant is prepared to sign a lease on it. The tenant may ask the landlord to hold the property- stop showing the property to other potential tenants and ensure that the property is ready for the tenant to sign the lease. This is usually done by the tenant giving the landlord money that will eventually become part of the security deposit once the tenant signs the lease.
If the tenant places a hold on a property and ends up deciding not to rent the property, the landlord may be able to keep the money from the early security deposit. This would be to make up for the expense of advertising the property again and any potential lost rent since the landlord may have been able to find a different renter if the landlord had not been holding the property. A tenant may be able to force the landlord to refund the deposit if the tenant can show that the property had a substantial hidden defect that the tenant could have resonably discovered when the tenant gave the deposit. Generally, if the tenant simply decides not to rent the property after asking the landlord to hold it, the landlord will have the right to keep the deposit to make up for these damages.
An agreement to hold an apartment is not governed by the state or the law. If a tenant decides they want to place a hold on an apartment, both the landlord and the tenant should sign a written agreement regarding the deposit. The written agreement should state exactly what the deposit is for and how the landlord will use the money.