Once thought to be a tool to price-gouge future residents, rental application fees have actually proven their worth. In 2006, Utah’s Rent Control Prohibition Act was amended to add a list of fees that are set by the market and cannot be regulated or prohibited by the local government. To renters and non-landlords, this change could be seen as a potential money grab by landlords and property management companies. However, in the years following the amended act, rental fees have proven to be well worth it. There a variety of reasons landlords should be charging rental application fees. Overall, it is only beneficial for you as a landlord to begin requiring this fee and we have a few simple reasons as to why.
Why Do Apartments Have Application Fees?
The most common reasoning for this type of fee is generally to cover the expense of conducting a thorough background check. This typically includes:
Pulling a credit report
Reviewing any criminal history
Checking the sex offender registry
Conducting financial qualification
Reviewing any rental history
Background checks may not seem that important, but they are actually extremely helpful to landlords and beneficial to renters. 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. 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.
How Much is the Average Application Fee for an Apartment?
While this fee varies from state to state, renters can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $60. As stated earlier, this pricing is determined by the market and is not dictated by the local government. That means this price can and should fluctuate as necessary. However, it’s in a landlord’s best interest to make it well-known to future renters that this fee is typically per renter over the age of 18, and is not a flat fee for everyone who will be living in the home. Being upfront about all upcoming and existing fees is best practice for successfully managing a property.
Why Are Rental Application Fees a Good Idea?
While there are many benefits for charging application fees, we have three top reasons for this extra charge.
This is a broad reason that encompasses many things, but it is important. By placing qualified tenants, you reduce the risk of damage to your property and the property of your other tenants. A successful background screening will bring up reasons why you wouldn’t want an individual renting from you. If they have a poor renting history, you can find this out before it’s too late and your property ends up being ruined. With a criminal background check, you can also reduce the risk of anything happening to your other tenants. A simple fee can save you thousands in damages later on down the road and gives you peace of mind from the first day a new tenant starts renting from you.
Unfortunately, thorough background checks aren’t free. Requiring one for every prospective tenant can add up very quickly and you’ll be the one footing the bill. Unexpected fees happen in property management, but this is a cost you can prevent. Requiring future renters to pay for their own screening makes running your business more cost-effective and will save you money in the long run.
Deter Unqualified Renters
Sometimes the rental application fee can serve as a qualifying process by itself. This ultimately saves you time by weeding out potential tenants who don’t think they will qualify before they even fill out the application. Not only do you save money, but this also makes you renter screening process more efficient. When you’re upfront with all prospective renters about the fees that will be required, you gain the trust of those who will qualify and give unqualified renters a chance to find another home.
Rental Application Fees Are Important and Necessary
So, by now you should see why application fees are critical to successfully managing any property. At Wolfnest, we take care of the screening, fees, and everything else in between for you. This gives you less time to worry about your rental property and more free time to spend with family, take vacations, and pursue other hobbies. We require an application fee for all future renters and look into a variety of other types of criteria such as employment, income, and credit history. Our goal is to keep your rental property or apartment in prime condition with tenants who feel the same way. We want you to get the most from your investment and we’re here to help achieve that goal. At Wolfnest, we take care of all the small details you may not have time to look into and ensure that your property will be well taken care of. So, a great place to start is requiring a rental application fee and finding the perfect renters for your building or home. Learn more about other property management services we provide and contact us today!