What is Earnest Money?

In some cases, landlords will tell prospective tenants that their unit is in high demand and may ask for ‘earnest money’. Earnest money is money paid to the landlord to hold the apartment/house pending the application process. The landlord has 3 days, however, this can be extended in writing up to 21 days. If a landlord approves the application, the prospective tenant is legally obligated to enter into a lease. If the prospective tenant timely withdraws the application with the landlord before they accept the application, the landlord is legally required to mail or deliver the Earnest Money by the end of the next day. If approved, this changes to be the tenant’s security deposit.

Learn more about Earnest Money in Step 11: Rental Application of our Rental Timeline.