What is the Application to Rent/Screening Fee?

The rental application is different in each of the states and municipalities of the country. Landlords, rental agents, and people searching for a place to rent must know the application process regulations.

When you decide to rent housing, there are many factors that the landlord must consider to ensure that you have the right profile to meet the conditions of the place. For that reason, the landlord investigates your income, employment, and criminal record.

What is an Application to Rent fee?

These are fees charged by property owners with the rental application. It is the most cost-effective and simple way to cover the costs of processing the application and criminal background checks to determine if the tenant qualifies.

They are also often used to cover soft costs, i.e., tenant checks. These fees pay the administrative time to review and collate the application information.

Should note that the objective of this fee is not to make a large profit, which is why most are positioned between $30 and $50 per applicant. Although the price changes depending on the state, you are in.

Do all tenants have to pay application fees?

Although each state has its regulations regarding this issue, the truth is that all tenants end up paying a rental application fee. However, some landlords have the right to waive fees for secondary tenants.

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Remember that the background check is not a free procedure, and it is up to the applicant to pay the administrative fees. That is why most choose to include an additional fee to cover all these costs during the procedure.

What is the average fee?

In almost all states, it averages around $30 per applicant. But the location and the market where the property is located also play a key role in the price of the required fees.

For example, if the property is in a recognized, desirable neighborhood with higher rents, it is acceptable for the price to increase. In some states, the fee remains between $50 and $200 per applicant.

Landlords or leasing agents should know local state regulations before quoting a market-based rate. That way, they can comply with specific guidelines for charging fees.
It is also essential that the rental application form be up-to-date and governed by all requirements of the government agencies in charge.

These are the laws established by each state for the rental application!

To get a better picture of what may or may not be charged depending on where you are, you need to be clear on what is stipulated in each state law. Here are a few:

  • Alabama: No statute
  • Alaska: If an application fee covers the landlord’s actual and reasonable costs for services rendered (such as checking the applicant’s credit history), it is probably legal
  • Arizona: Landlords may charge an application fee without limitation
  • Arkansas: there are no limits on application fees, and they are non-refundable
  • California: as of 2019, the maximum you can trust for an application fee is $50.94 and cannot exceed the owner’s actual out-of-pocket costs
  • Colorado: there is no limit to the max a landlord can charge for an application fee; however, many Colorado cities have stricter laws and regulations than state law. In this regard, landlords should check with the city where the rental property is located
  • Connecticut: landlords in the state are not limited in the amount they can charge
  • Delaware: they can only set the greatest of one month’s rent or $50 for an application fee
  • Florida: The state does not limit the amount a landlord can charge for application fees, but it is recommended that they charge no more than the average out-of-pocket expense
  • Georgia: There are no limits on what a landlord can charge for application fees, and they are non-refundable
  • Hawaii: There are no limits, and they are non-refundable
  • Idaho: no limits on application fees
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Other states with rental laws

  • Illinois: No limits and non-refundable
  • Indiana: No limits and non-refundable
  • Kansas: no limits and non-refundable
  • Kentucky: no limits and non-refundable
  • Louisiana: Unlimited and non-refundable
  • Michigan: unlimited and non-refundable
  • Minnesota: the owner must not charge more than the screening service. Therefore, any additional funds must be reimbursed to the applicant
  • Mississippi: No limits and non-refundable
  • Missouri: no limits and not reimbursable
  • Montana: unrestricted and non-refundable
  • New Mexico: no limits and non-refundable
  • New York: $20 limit as of June 2019

A highlight of Application to Rent!

It should be noted that in states such as California, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Minnesota, there are laws and regulations with greater specifics regarding collecting rental application fees.

In California, landlords may charge a maximum screening fee of $35 per applicant. In addition, if this fee is set, the landlord must provide a copy of the background check upon request.

rental application

Upon completion of the process, the landlord must provide a receipt with the details of the charges. These specifications are found in different states, so the tenant and the landlord must be familiar with the laws of the place where they will make the rental.

For example, the landlord cannot charge more than $20 for the rental application fee in Wisconsin. That would be fair to obtain the appraisal report.

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