Tenant's Guide to House Rental Application Fees: Cost Breakdown
Tenant's Guide to House Rental Application Fees: Cost Breakdown

When you’re in the process of renting a house, you’ll likely encounter various fees associated with the application process. These fees can vary depending on your location and the rental property, so it’s essential to understand what you might encounter and how to navigate them. Before you start your house-hunting journey, you can explore a wide range of rental properties by searching houses for rent on top rental portals such as Zumper or Apartments. In this guide, we’ll break down the typical rental application fees and help you understand the costs involved.

Application Fees

Application fees are one of the most common fees you’ll encounter when renting a house. These fees cover the cost of processing your rental application, including background and credit checks. Application fees are usually non-refundable and vary from one property to another. They typically range from $25 to $75 per applicant, but it’s crucial to check with the landlord or property management company for the exact amount.

Credit Check Fees

A credit check is a standard part of the rental application process. Landlords use your credit history to assess your financial responsibility and ability to pay rent on time. Credit check fees can vary, but they are typically included in the application fee. If they are separate, they may range from $10 to $30 per applicant.

Background Check Fees

Background checks are conducted to verify your criminal history and rental history. These checks ensure that you have a history of being a responsible tenant. Like credit check fees, background check fees may be included in the application fee or charged separately, ranging from $15 to $50 per applicant.

Pet Fees

If you plan to bring a furry friend with you to your new rental house, be prepared to pay pet fees. These fees cover the cost of additional cleaning and potential damages caused by pets. Pet fees can vary widely, typically ranging from $200 to $500 per pet. Some landlords may charge a monthly pet rent in addition to the initial fee.

Security Deposits

A security deposit is a common requirement when renting a house. This deposit serves as financial protection for the landlord in case of damages or unpaid rent. Security deposit amounts vary but are often equal to one to two months’ rent. It’s important to note that the security deposit is refundable, provided you meet the terms of your lease and leave the property in good condition.

Holding Deposits

In some cases, landlords may request a holding deposit to secure the rental property while your application is being processed. This deposit is typically applied toward your security deposit or first month’s rent if your application is approved. Holding deposit amounts can vary but are generally equivalent to one month’s rent.

Administrative Fees

Administrative fees are sometimes charged by property management companies to cover the cost of paperwork, lease preparation, and administrative tasks associated with your rental. These fees are not as common as others but can range from $50 to $200.

Application Fee Waivers

It’s worth noting that some landlords or property management companies may offer application fee waivers or discounts in certain situations. For example, you may be eligible for a waiver if you are a military veteran, a current tenant looking to transfer within the same property management company, or if you meet other specific criteria. Always inquire about fee waivers or discounts to potentially reduce your upfront costs.

Fee Regulations by Location

Keep in mind that rental application fees and regulations can vary by location. Some states and cities have laws in place that limit the amount landlords can charge for application fees or require them to provide a breakdown of fees to applicants. It’s essential to research the local rental laws and regulations in your area to understand your rights as a tenant.


Understanding the various fees associated with the rental application process is essential for budgeting and avoiding surprises. Before submitting your application for a rental house, inquire about the specific fees and their amounts. Additionally, carefully review your lease agreement to ensure that the fees are clearly outlined, and you understand your obligations as a tenant. By being informed and prepared, you can navigate the rental application process more smoothly and make the best choices for your housing needs. Explore your options to find the perfect rental property for your next home.