Does your apartment come with junk fees?

Application fees, trash collection, pet rent — the White House is taking aim at hidden apartment fees.

We’ve talked about the extra fees associated with short-term vacation rentals — hello, Airbnb cleaning fees — but what about your actual apartment?

apartment building

We’re talking security deposits, application fees, trash collection, online payment processing, parking, and that $500 pet deposit for Pumpkin, your sweet angel baby Pomeranian who never does anything wrong.

They’re all annoying, but three rental sites are going to start listing upfront and recurring fees as part of the total cost:

  • Zillow’s Cost of Renting Summary tool launched yesterday
  •’s cost calculator will roll out later this year
  • will require property owners to disclose all fees; those who follow best practices will get a “Trusted Owner” badge


Yesterday, the White House announced efforts to crack down on junk fees in rental housing; it also took aim at ticket and travel junk fees earlier this year.

But unlike travel and tickets, rent is where many Americans spend the bulk of their income:

  • Roughly 35% of Americans live in rental housing
  • In 2019, almost one quarter of those households spent at least half of their paychecks on rent
  • During the pandemic, rent prices increased ~26% nationwide

Junk fees can make it hard for renters to know what they can actually afford. Those who do get roped into leases with hidden charges may be unable to pay them on time — and there’s probably a late fee.

What else?

The White House also announced new research from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and outlined recent state-level actions, such as:

  • A new Colorado bill that allows renters to reuse one application across multiple properties for up to 30 days
  • Rhode Island limited application fees to no more than the actual cost of background and credit checks
  • Minnesota now requires landlords to display the total monthly payment on the first page of the lease and in advertisements

BTW: Just how silly are some of these fees? One Seattle renter said he received a $75 notice fee after his landlord “notified” him he couldn’t have potted plants on his balcony (which the lease allowed).

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