Deposits are amounts of money you pay to your landlord or management company that you should get back when you vacate the apartment, barring a major incident.
Apartment fees are typically nonrefundable.
Ask your building manager or landlord for a list of the fees and deposits required to move into the building.
That stunning apartment listed in a desirable neighborhood listed way below market rate may seem too good to be true—and for good reason. Many apartment rentals require you to pay several fees and deposits before move-in day, which could affect your bottom line.
While shopping around for a new apartment, it’s wise to be aware of the costs involved in addition to the base apartment rent price, including pet fees, security deposits, and more. Read on for our guide to common apartment fees and deposits.
Deposits vs. Fees: What’s the Difference?
So, what exactly is the difference between a deposit and a fee? For starters, a rental deposit is the sum of money you pay to the landlord or management company when you sign your lease. This deposit is held by your landlord or management company during your rental period, and returned when you move out, unless they have reason to withhold a portion of your deposit.
On the other hand, a fee is typically a nonrefundable sum of money paid in exchange for a service or amenity. Some are one-time fees, while others are paid on a more regular basis. For example, rental apartments may charge occupants additional fees for services like parking or pool maintenance.
Common Apartment Deposits
Here are several deposits you should expect to pay when renting an apartment.
A security deposit is a sum of money (typically equivalent to one to two months rent) you pay to the landlord—after you have been approved to rent—for them to hold on to and deduct from in the event of damage to the apartment. As long as you take care of the property and clean it well before moving out, you should receive your full deposit back when you leave. Check your rental agreement for a list of specific incidents that could cause you to lose part or all of your security deposit.
If your apartment allows pets, you may have to pay an additional deposit to cover any damage your pet causes to the apartment. Like a security deposit, you should receive this sum of money back when you move out there isn’t any pet-caused damage.
Most municipalities with rent stabilization ordinances limit the total deposit a landlord can collect, so ensure the additional pet deposit does not exceed the total amount a landlord can request. There’s a lot of variation from state to state, but you can contact a local tenants union for guidance.
Common Apartment Fees
There are several fees to be aware of when you rent a new apartment; some are one-time fees, while others are monthly.
Unfortunately, there will likely be a fee before you even get to move in—an application fee. This fee usually ranges from about $20 to $100, and it covers the cost of the management company or landlord’s efforts to run a credit check, review your rental history, and obtain a background check.
These feeds are typically nonrefundable, even if you don’t get the apartment or decide not to live there. Keep in mind that some states have limits on how much a landlord can charge you for your apartment application. For example, in New York, the limit is $20. In Wisconsin, the limit is $20 and the landlord must give you a copy of the background check. Research your state’s laws to ensure you don’t pay more than required.
If you plan to park in your apartment’s lot or garage, you may need to pay a parking fee. Parking fees typically range from $50 to $200 per month, depending on your location and the type of parking spot. Indoor and covered parking tends to cost more, while outdoor and uncovered parking is typically less expensive.
Some landlords or management companies require tenants to hold renters insurance while living there. Renters insurance is similar to home insurance: It will cover any damage or theft caused to your personal items if they are lost, stolen, or damaged during your lease.
On average, renters insurance will set you back about $168 per year, or $14 per month, for $30,000 in personal property coverage and $100,000 in liability coverage, with a $500 deductible. The more coverage you need, the higher the fee will cost.
Homeowners Association Fees
If you’re renting a house, condo, duplex, or similar freestanding property, you may have to pay a homeowners association fee. This fee is used to pay for general upkeep of the apartment property, including gardening, building repairs, sewer use, pest control, and trash pickup. Some homeowners associations charge monthly fees, while others charge an annual or one-time fee.
Move-In and Move-Out Fees
Move-in and move-out fees are most common in luxury high-rise apartment buildings. The one-time fee covers the cost of new locks, updating directories and mailboxes, and cleaning before and after move-in or out. These fees are nonrefundable and can range from $150 to $400 on average.
In addition to a pet deposit, you may also need to register your pet with the apartment community in the form of a non refundable pet fee. This fee does not cover any potential damage to the apartment, and you’ll need to pay it before you move in.
While many apartments require you to set up your utilities and pay for them on your own, some apartments roll them into your monthly apartment cost for an added fee. Utilities can include water, gas, electricity, trash pick-up, internet, phone, and cable television. Ask your landlord if any utilities are included in the cost of rent, if there’s a separate fee for them, or if you need to set them up and pay the utility companies directly.
Some apartments include optional storage units, and if you’d like to use one for your extra things—furniture, record collections, seasonal decor—you’ll likely have to pay an annual or monthly storage fee.