Are rental application fees a scam? If you pay someone and they do not actually do anything to justify the fee I can understand feeling that it’s a scam. Our office does pay almost all of it to third party vendors for reports and the small remaining bit covers staffing fees.
Sometimes, a prospective tenant will call or email us asking whether we charge an application fee. The answer is always yes. The purpose of application fees is to protect the homeowner and determine whether or not the property and tenant are a good fit.
Application fees cover several costs – credit/criminal/eviction reports, verification of income and employment. Reports are not free nor is the time involved in processing the entire application package. These funds do not “pad our pockets” or anything to that effect.
As someone looking to rent it probably isn’t a good idea to call or email the landlord with what can be perceived as an attitude over application fees. Behavior like that is only a red flag and frankly does not start the relationship out on the best footing. We do want to help you and if we’re going to deal with each other over the next year, doesn’t it make sense to be nice to each other?
To be fair, if we believe your situation will not meet our rental criteria we will tell you up front so you don’t waste your time or money.
So while you’re out there looking, try to keep it in perspective that
no one most people are not trying to scam you out of anything. Just like you, we’re just doing our jobs.