Residential Property Management/about to rent new apartment

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Question
Hi there!  We viewed a towhouse in August that was advertised at $1400/month (I still have a screen capture of the ad that states that rent is $1400 and a $1400 security deposit is also required.)  The ad also says no pets, but I have an email from the realtor (who also manages the property) that says pets are allowed and that the previous tenants had a dog as well.

We applied for the apartment, they did the credit check and told us the place is ours.  We are about to sign the lease and I just received an email from the realtor asking for 2 separate money orders, one for the first month's rent and one for the last month's rent and security deposit - and apparently they have increased it from $1400 to $1450.  We have been in contact for over a month and this was never mentioned to us.  

I'm guessing it's not "illegal," but to me this seems at best unethical.  Is this something that landlords/property owners routinely do or should we see it as a red flag and run before we commit by signing the lease?  
I have a feeling they might try to justify it by saying it's an additional fee because we have a dog, but shouldn't that have been in the advertisement or made clear back when I asked them to clarify that pets were allowed to begin with?  

Should we insist on the original price or just walk away?  My gut is telling me to be suspicious of a landlord who would raise the rent before we even move in...

Answer
Your intuition is probably correct. Although probably not an illegal move, the way you describe the scenario seems unethical, and it's a logical conclusion that if the landlord does this sort of thing now, you could expect the same kind of thing in the future. I would at least demand an explanation for the last minute change, and if you're not satisfied with the answer, it might be best to move on. Best of luck.

Residential Property Management

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Mike Fortunato

Expertise

Very familiar with all aspects of property management (tenant/landlord issues, lease administration, facilities maintenance, financials, etc). 25+ years in property management

Experience

I have been in real estate management for 25+ years, both residential and commercial properties. Currently own and operate a commercial and residential real estate management company in southern California.

Organizations
IREM; BOMA; MLS; National Association of Realtors; California Association of Realtors

Education/Credentials
CPM (Certified Property Manager) and RPA (Real Property Administrator)

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