8 questionable rental fees to avoid
Not all fees are created equal. In fact, some stretch the law. Renters who know which fees don’t fly should protest — and save themselves some cash.
Unfortunately, the bill never stops with the rent.
First up are the utilities, which you can hardly argue with. Then come the perks, such as a covered parking space.
But then come those fees. The ones that should be marked with a big red "F," for "forget it." They seem either oddly redundant (a decorating fee and a cleaning deposit?), or excessive (pay you for my guest?). Well, if your hackles go up, the law may agree.
Check the fees below. If you’re billed for these, get out your red pen and start negotiating with the landlord. You might even be able to refuse to pay. (Bing: Research landlord-tenant laws in your state.)
1. Excessive late-rent fee
The Landlord Protection Agency, a website that provides advice for landlords, has this to say about late-rent fees: "Late charges should hurt. … It should be a painful enough fee that the tenant will not want to pay again. Ever."
The site suggests additional daily charges, and goes so far as to say that landlords are wise to suspect any tenant who questions the policy.
Although the site says its forms are legally credible, this free advice may have bypassed such review. Lawyers in any state will tell you that late-rent fees are not to be used as punishment or deterrent.
"The purpose of the late fee is an attempt to try and compensate the landlord for the inconvenience or cost associated with a late payment," says Steven R. Kellman, director of the Tenants Legal Center of San Diego. "It is not meant to be a bully stick waved at the tenant. The idea that I’m going to whip you each day you don’t pay, that’s not the intent of the law."
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What can tenants do? If, instead of one $25 late fee, for example, you’re charged extra per day, or charged an amount that’s much above that, send a polite note with the rent and a small late fee: "I’m not paying this late fee because I feel it’s excessive and outrageous," Paul D. Sher, a tenant lawyer in Michigan, suggests. "Then the landlord has to decide what to do."
2. Overnight guest fee
Here’s another fee that doesn’t pass the smell test.
Plenty of landlord notices lay out a $25 charge for a tenant’s overnight guest, for example, or a $50 rent increase for an additional occupant.
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There’s just one obstacle: federal law, says Kellman, who sees plenty of unenforceable lease provisions that naive landlords pull from the Web.
A landlord can limit total occupancy at a point set by law — typically two people per bedroom plus two — to protect his unit. He can also require that a permanent occupant pass a criminal background check. But he can’t tack on arbitrary charges, Kellman says.
"That’s illegal, because it’s discrimination under familial status," he says. "If you want to have a relative move in or have a baby, that’s your right."
If landlords are concerned about the extra cost of water or electricity, "then they need to get separate meters and you pay for what you use," he says.
3. Unnecessary application fee
It’s OK for a landlord to pass along the cost he must incur to run credit and security checks. But some states limit the amount per tenant. And in all cases it is illegal for the landlord to take the fee and not run the check.
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So be careful if 10 folks are applying for the same unit. Is each handing over $35 for a credit check?
Advocates say people have been known to collect these fees with no intent of paying for the report. Ask if the credit check can be the final step. Always ask for a receipt and some documentation that shows the credit was indeed checked.
Here’s another tip. Get a copy of your report and have it on hand to submit to the next prospective landlord. If the landlord is skeptical, explain that applying for multiple apartments can get expensive at $35 per application.
I own a mobile home park and most of the units in it.
We charge a deposit of $500.00 + a yearly $100.00 per pet liability fee to cover additional insurance & damages caused by the pet we charge that fee for all animals.
The damage/cleaning/surety deposit has a 6 mo min rental clause in it
IOW, if the renter moves out in less than 6 mo it's not returned.
Our units are inspected & repaired then deep cleaned top to bottom front to back and just a normal cleaning takes 2 full days at a minimum. you'd be surprised (?) at the crap & filth that's left in our places when renters leave.
When I was a renter I never left a place in an unrentable condition
AND if a possible renter doesn't like any provision in my month to month contract I simply tell them to look elsewhere.
India,Mumbai 63km Pune airport/93km Sahar airport;1.25km Lonavala is our second home in a Hill-station 650mete's up, by rail/car/taxi, 3attached room,2western toilet/basin,kitchen gas is free on rental Rs.1200/= 10.30am-10.30am basis (simple full-furnished) 91 022 65824045,privale semi-detached, safe society,porch,garden