When it comes to renting apartments, landlords must always try and fill their apartments with the most ideal tenants. This ensures rent is paid on time every month and minimizes problems and hassles with tenants. Selecting the best tenant can be done with an application fee. In this article, we will be going over every detail to give you a clear understanding of everything that is involved with application fees for apartments and why they are so important.

We will cover application fees from the perspective of the tenant and landlord to paint the full picture. So, let’s start with the basics: what is an application fee?

Application fees are intended to cover the cost of running a credit and background check. Taking a hard look at an applicant’s credit history, employer, former landlord, and a background check on criminal records gives the landlord insight into a potential tenants background and whether they will make a good tenant. The application fee and background check help eliminate people inquiring about your property that don’t have serious intentions about actually renting.

The purpose of the credit check is so the landlord can see if the potential tenant would even be able to afford the monthly rent. This also helps cut down on the amount of time it takes to find the most suitable tenants because the rental application fee for apartments will quickly weed out the tenants that are not serious.

Application Fee For Apartments

How Application Fees Apply

If you are a potential tenant and you are seriously interested in applying to live in a certain apartment, the landlord can choose to charge you a rental application fee. However, a landlord will not charge an application fee in every situation.

Sometimes a landlord will simply ask verbally about your credit history and finances so that they can get a broad overview of your financial situation to determine if you will be able to pay the monthly rent and therefore be an ideal tenant for their apartment. This can be done by asking directly for a pay stub to see what the potential tenant brings in monthly and determine what they will be able to afford.

The Main Benefit of Application Fees For Apartments

Most landlords put a lot of time, effort and money into their apartments and when they choose to rent them out, they want to ensure that their apartments are going to be well looked after by the tenant and they also want to keep the surroundings safe and free from negative behaviour and crime.

The main benefit of application fees is the background check on a potential tenant. Having a thorough background check done can help greatly reduce the risk for the landlord and allow them to only take on the highest quality tenants.

Another advantage of a thorough background check is the landlord will be able to quickly determine whether or not a person has a previous criminal history. Because the last thing a landlord wants to do is take on a tenant only to have constant problems with them and even worse legal problems if the tenant is not able to stay out of trouble. This can cause problems for the property and other tenants.

Application Fee For Apartments

Statistics show when proper and thorough background checks are conducted the result is lower crime rates. Landlords are more likely to conduct these background checks if they charge fees that cover the cost of the check. If renters are hesitant to pay this fee, it’s good business practice to inform them what this payment is going towards and that if they are rejected, it is refundable. The purpose of rental application fees is not to provide additional income to the landlord, but to screen applicants to ensure responsible tenants.

What Is The Cost of a Rental Application Fee For Apartments?

So far we have covered why rental application fees are important and why you need them as a landlord to give you more flexibility and insurance when it comes to taking on new tenants in your apartment.

Let’s now talk about the price of these application fees and what you can expect to pay on average. When you have a look at these fees it is important to take into consideration what state you are living in, because the application fee for apartments varies by state. But we will try and give you the best ballpark figure that you can go off so that you have a good understanding on how much it will cost.

Application Fee For Apartments

You can expect to pay anywhere from as low as $25 all the way up to $70 and in some situations as high as $100 per rental application fee. But we want to mention that you should be very skeptical if you notice that the application fee is too high. The landlord that is charging these excessive prices for the application could just be doing a quick money grab and not actually have your best interests at heart.

Be Weary of Potential Scams

In some situations, landlords use the application fee as a way to pocket money. When you come across a landlord that seems to just be in it for the money, we would advise that you just walk away and never do business with that landlord. In certain states they actually limit the amount that a landlord can charge for an application fee. So if you live in a state that has these laws then you do not need to worry about being taken advantage of too much, but you still want to be aware.

Only Charge For The Checks That You Perform 

As a landlord of an apartment it takes a lot of time and it also takes a lot of effort to rent out and maintain an apartment or handful of apartments, that is why a landlord may decide that their time is worth more and decide to charge a little bit extra for their rental application fee for apartments. We want to emphasize that doing this is not going to be good for your rental business long term because you cannot expect to cheat the system and still reap the long term rewards.

As we mentioned, the cost of background and credit check varies depending where you live. It’s best practice to check what the typical costs for these things are in your state. You should charge for only the checks that you actually perform and never include extra costs or fees for the potential tenant as that will significantly hurt your business in the long term when people come to realize what you are doing.

Some Important Things To Take Into Consideration

Application fees will be in the hands of the landlord and they will decide whether they want to charge potential tenants a rental application fee. Sometimes in the situation where a landlord does not charge an application fee they will try and uncover as much information about you and your credit and background history as possible in the actual application meeting.

Another way that a landlord can get certain information about a potential tenant is from the rental application form that the applicant filled out. Depending on the form a landlord can discover everything about the potential tenant’s financial status and in some cases give a brief summary of their background history.

As a landlord don’t set a fee without checking with your state and local housing regulations. Some states limit or prohibit rental application fees and are specific about a landlord’s obligation when collecting these types of fees. For example, in some states, the maximum screening fee a landlord can charge is $35 and they must provide an itemized receipt.


We have covered the A-Z and everything that you need to know with regards to the application fees for apartments.

So you can see that these application fees are very important and if you are a landlord you should seriously consider charging rental application fees if you have not started to implement them in your tenant screening process already. If you are a tenant, do not be worried about the small fee too much because if you have a good credit and background history, performing these checks will ensure that you get more of the apartments that you apply for, as a landlord can quickly see that you are a great fit for their apartment. 

One thing that we also want to mention is that if you are looking at a potential apartment and you have met with the landlord and they give you their rental application fee price and it seems high, you should always question the landlord to see what exactly that fee entails and the reason for it being higher than the average price.

If for any reason you still have further questions or are a little bit unsure about anything that we spoke about in this article then feel free to get in touch with us and we would be more than happy to assist. With many years of experience in the rental property industry, we are more than qualified to assist you with any questions or concerns that you may have. Feel free to also browse the rest of our website, we cover a wide variety of topics in the rental space so be sure to check those out.

We pride ourselves on helping people get the most out of their real estate experience and we have tons of happy clients and we would be more than happy to help you too. If you would like a free rental analysis, click here.