If you are looking to rent a new apartment or house, you must know that you’ll have to pay a few different fees throughout the renting process. While almost all renters are familiar with security deposit, one fee may surprise first-time renters i.e. rental application fee.
A rental application fee is charged by the landlord or property to run a background check on a prospective client. These background checks are run to determine an applicant’s eligibility as a tenant. The fee is paid at the time of application and is generally nonrefundable.
While there is no cap on the amount of rental application fee, each tenant has to pay $35 to $75. The amount of the fee also varies from location to location. Here are a few things every applicant must know before renting a property:
1. Each tenant has to pay a rental application fee.
Landlords and property managers often require each tenant over the age of 18 to fill out a separate application. A rental application fee is paid with each application. Anybody who’s on the rental agreement has to undergo a screening process and therefore has to pay an application fee.
As both husband and wife belong to different backgrounds, they are screened separately. Many states have laws in place to govern the renting process.
2. Rental application fee laws vary by state.
The average fee charged by most landlords is $30 per applicant or tenant. There are many factors that influence the amount of rental application fee, such as location, market, and property’s value.
Rental application fees vary greatly from state to state. This is because different states have different tenant laws. Some landlords and property managers charge $50 to $200 per applicant. It’s legal for them to charge more if the rental unit has a is in a desirable location and a higher rate is justified.
All renters must view their local state regulations to check if there are any specific guidelines or rules for charging an application fee. Landlords and property managers cannot charge market-based fees if the law does not permit.
3. Application fees are refundable under certain circumstances.
Though application fees are generally nonrefundable, you may be entitled to a refund in certain cases. As the tenancy rules vary from state to state, you must read the rental application to check if the fee is refundable.
Some states have legal limits to how much a landlord can charge for an application. If the amount they charge is more than what is permitted under law, the tenant may be able to get a refund. If the landlord refuses to refund the amount, the tenant can make a court claim for money. A tenant can also claim a refund if the screening fee is used for purposes not permitted under law.
Before filling out the application, renters must view local rental laws to check if the application fee is refundable or not. Landlords are required to provide a receipt of the traction to the applicant with a list of out-of-pocket expenses and hours spent.
4. Rental application fee ranges have limits.
As rental application fees vary by state, some states have set a cap on the amount that can be charged. California, for example, limits by law the maximum amount that landlords can charge for rental applications.
Currently, landlords cannot charge more than $52.46 per applicant for residential application in California. According to the law, landlords cannot charge a screening fee greater than the actual out-of-pocket costs of running a background check on the application and the total time spent. The state has mandated an upper limit on the amount that can be charged. It’s best if renters perform a comparative analysis on application fees and ask the landlord to provide an itemized list of all out-of-pocket expenses.
Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned business and law blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable articles with the audience.