Avoid hidden fees in your next rental

Courtney on

money in jail behind barsLike it or not, renting a new place is rarely as easy or as inexpensive as we’d like it to be.In order to stave off renter’s remorse, we heartily recommend you pull out that red pen prior to signing your lease agreement.Reality is, that too-good-to-be-true base rent may turn into just that if you miss or disregard hidden fees that could pad your monthly payment.

Ranked by threat level, here’s Moveline’s list of the fees most commonly hiddenin rental paperwork, plus some tips for knowing when to negotiate:

Likely Legit

Amenities Fees - Depending on the type of property you’re moving into,you may be expected to pay a monthly or yearly fee to use the amenities provided to residents.The negotiation factor is typically low here, as management likely has little to no ability to determine whether or not you’re taking advantage of what they offer.That said, while you’re less likely to get out of paying those few extra dollars a yea rto have the communal bocce court raked on the regular, you may be able to negotiate more significant fees. For example,an (off-street! secure! conveniently located!) assigned parking space if you don’t actually own a car.

Installation Fees - If your new place hasn’t been wired for simple modern convenienceslike cable or Internet, this could manifest as a fee written into your lease agreement.It’s worth asking if you can pay your own guy to do the installation,but most management companies and landlords want to use theirpeople to ensure the job is done the way they want it, or to get a contract rate.


Overnight Guest Fee - While a landlord has every right to limit the total tenantoccupancy per unit, they cannot charge you for one-time guests.We’ve seen landlords who cover their property’s monthly utilities attempt tocharge their tenants for any uptick in water/heat/electricity usage while they’reentertaining guests. Not only does this fee put a damper on your social life,it’s illegal, so party on.


Any “Nonrefundable” Deposit - By definition, a deposit is something returned once certain terms or conditions are met. Look out for anything labeled as such that your new landlord expects to hang onto. Then smile, and politely inform them they’re grossly contradicting themselves.

Redecorating, Cleaning or Repair Fees - Your security deposit covers the normalwear and tear you’ll inevitably put on your place.Your landlord is responsible for any repairs needed while you’re a tenant,as well as getting the apartment ready for the next tenant once you leave.The only cost you should cover is anything you break or destroy out of negligence.That’s when your security deposit turns into a fee.

Administrative Fee - This is the most bogus and bold fee a landlord can sneakinto your lease. Pay it and you could be covering anything from your managementcompany’s advertising budget to their office supplies.In the world of lease agreement red flags, this is a blazing,fire-engine-red “NOPE” and should be shot down accordingly.

Don’t hesitate to pipe up if parts of your lease don’t make senseor a certain line could use more explanation. If you are agreeing to pay additionalfees on top of your monthly rent, be sure to clarify if they aremonthly or one-time fees and get your landlord to include thatlanguage in the lease before(!) you sign on the line.

Moveline has mastered the art of the smooth move, so let us help you keep it stress-free.Once you’re in, follow our advice for meeting your new neighbors andbe sure to invite us to that housewarming.