The American rental market is currently facing a massive issue—fees.
While renters of previous generations could expect to pay a security deposit and potentially a small fee for the consideration of their application, renters today are expected to shell out major sums before they are even considered for an apartment.
For example, when applying for an apartment, a renter may be asked to pay an “application fee.” This is, nominally, meant to cover the cost of a basic background check on an applicant before they can rent an apartment.
However, “many of the fees run well above the actual cost of a credit check,” notes author Irina Ivanova for CBS News, citing data from the National Consumer Law Center. “What’s more, landlords often collect application fees liberally, charging many tenants who will never be eligible for the apartment, advocates in Maryland, Georgia, and South Carolina told the NCLC.”
Now, a user on TikTok has sparked discussion after calling out a prospective apartment for these fees.
In a video with over 44,000 views as of Friday morning, TikTok user EasyGreen (@user4185324061530) shows the various fees she has to pay before renting an apartment.
“OK, so I’ve heard of an application fee, and an administration fee…but what in the entire f*ck is an approval fee?” she asks.
@user4185324061530 Extra apartment fees!!! Fees on fees on fees!!! #apartment #apartmentaudacity ♬ original sound – EasyGreen
Later in the video, she says she requested more information about the fee from her rental agent, only to be told that it was an additional fee so that her paperwork can continue to be processed.
“Isn’t that what the administration fee is for?” EasyGreen points out.
The aforementioned CBS News article cites a long list of potential fees that prospective and current renters may be expected to pay. These include rental application fees, late fees, pet fees, administrative fees, insurance fees, ‘high risk’ fees, and ‘convenience fees’ for online payment, among other fees.
Heightening rent prices and the increase in fees like these may be one of the reasons why rental companies have found such financial success in recent months.
“When fees and rent are combined, the three largest apartment rental companies saw record profits last year, watchdog group Accountable.us noted. Starwood Property Trust, Mid-America Apartment Communities and AvalonBay Communities saw profits of $2.8 billion last year, up $800 million from the year before, which was itself a record,” explains Ivanova. “Meanwhile, the three biggest single-family rental companies—Invitation Homes, AMH and Tricon Residential—enjoyed a $1.5 billion in profits, a $540 million jump from the year before.”
On TikTok, users complained about the prevalence of such fees.
“They’re making money just off the applications and ppl still won’t get the apt,” a user observed. “Damn shame.”
“It’s the trash fee for me,” another added. “You charging me to throw trash away.”
“Processing the paperwork?” a third questioned. “The applicant doesn’t get paid for filling it out. I’m about to start charging them for my time.”
While some users claimed that landlords used such fees simply to recoup the money they lost during COVID, research from JPMorgan Chase found that landlords came out of the pandemic with only minor losses in revenue.
“…The median landlord ended 2020 with a modest decline of 3 percent in rental revenue compared to 2019,” the research states.
In contrast, the average American worker saw a 10.3% decline in earnings over the course of the pandemic, per research from the International Labour Organization.
Back on TikTok, users advised EasyGreen not to take the apartment.
“I wouldn’t move there,” stated a user. “They have entirely too many fees.”
“Run run run!!!” exclaimed a second. “You will spend the rest of your lease learning about new fees every month!!”
The Daily Dot reached out to EasyGreen via TikTok comment.