Avoid Hidden Fees in Your Next Rental
Avoid Hidden Fees
- What Kind of Charges are There?
- Legitimate Charges
- Questionable Charges
- Illegitimate Charges
Unfortunately, moving to a new home is seldom a cheap process these days. If you are desperate to save a few dollars on your next move to a new home, then you should take some precautionary measures when signing off your rental. If you are struck with the feeling that the rental terms are too good to be true, you may just be right. There could be hidden fees that give the appearance that the overall cost of your rental is a steal. In order of how common they are, here are Moving Authority’s list of the additional fees that are commonly tacked on to rental paperwork. This can be intimidating if this is your first time moving from home, but you will be fine as long as you're informed. Sometimes, all you need to avoid these fees is some negotiation skills.
1. What Kind of Charges are There?
2. Legitimate Charges
- Amenities Fees: Depending on the property you are relocating to, the building may require that you pay a recurring fee for the use of public areas of the building. For example, if your apartment complex features a communal gym or swimming pool, your monthly amenities fee will go toward the maintenance of these structures. These fees can seldom be negotiated since the managers of the building cannot determine whether or not you are using the amenities they provide. On the other hand, there may be some amenities fees that can be negotiated out of the overall cost of your rental. For example, if the building includes a parking spot in their private lot as part of your monthly fee, this is something that can be negotiated out, especially if you don’t own a car.
- Installation Fees: If you are moving into a newly built or remodeled rental, then it may not be required to support cable or the internet. The installation of the wiring necessary to support these modern features will probably show up as an additional charge on your lease. If the cost of installation seems a bit high, then you may consider asking if you can use your own person to do the job. However, some managers prefer to have the work done by their own staff to ensure that it is done correctly, or maybe because they want to profit from the fee you pay, while they are paying a contractor's rate.
- Guest Fees: While it makes sense for a landlord to limit the number of people residing in a single apartment unit, they do not have the right to charge you for guests staying for a few nights. Moving Authority recently looked into a case study involving a select number of landlords. It was discovered that one out of every three landlords monitored their tenant’s water and power usage. They took note of any surge in the usage of their tenant’s utilities and charged them for “guest fees”. Not only is it completely wrong to nickel-and-dime people on top of the rent they already pay, but it is also illegal. Not to mention, it drastically limits the social life that you can have in your own home.
4. Illegitimate Charges
- Nonrefundable Deposits: A deposit is defined as a sum of money that is returned upon the satisfaction of certain terms or conditions. Be wary of any deposit that is labeled as “nonrefundable” on your lease agreement. Inform the landlord that this charge is a contradiction of themselves.
- Cleaning and Repair Fees: The security deposit you put down when you move into a new home will cover any wear and tear that will be put in your place. Your landlord is responsible for the repairs that are needed in your unit when you are a tenant, as well as preparations needed to get the unit ready for the next tenant after you. The only fee that you should have to pay is when you break or damage something out of negligence. The repairs will come out of your security deposit and do not warrant another fee.
- Administration Fee: A significant number of landlords will try to charge you for their expenses when they are operating the building. Your administration fees could range from you paying for the manager’s advertising costs to you covering their office supplies. If you are looking at a lease that includes any kind of fee labeled as “administrative” or “administrating”, then you should immediately call it out.
5. Don't Be Hesitant to Speak Up
If there are certain aspects of your lease that don’t make sense to you, or if there are any fees that require more explanation for you to understand. If you agree to pay additional fees on top of what you are already paying for rent, then be sure to clarify whether these are one-time fees, or if they are recurring charges. Be sure to have your landlord clarify this in the lease as well. Do not sign your lease until you are sure that everything is correct. Treat your lease agreement just as you would treat your agreement with a moving company, don't let landlords ding you with fees that do not make sense.