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What Is an Admin Fee? [2023 Renter’s Guide]

March 23, 2024
An admin fee typically covers the cost of your background, credit, and rental history checks. Landlords incur these during the apartment application process.

An administration fee, or admin fee for apartments, covers the costs landlords incur when performing their due diligence on your application. The administrative fee will typically include your background, credit, and rental history check.

Continue for an in-depth guide on admin fees. We'll explore how much you can expect to pay and how they differ from security deposits and move-in fees, ending on a helpful list of common other rental fees you should have top of mind while preparing for your move.

Admin Fees Explained

Admin Fee vs. Move-In Fee vs. Security Deposit

When looking for a new apartment, it's important to understand the various fees that you may encounter during the application and move-in process, including apartment admin fees, move-in fees, and security deposits. Here's how they differ:

Admin Fee

The apartment admin fee ranges from $50 up to $200, depending on your local regulations. This non-refundable fee covers crucial administrative costs associated with running the following reports:

  • Background check
  • Credit check
  • Rental history check

Move-In Fee

The move-in fee is another payment you may need to make to your landlord before moving into your new apartment. This non-refundable move-in fee covers basic repairs and changes that need to be made, including:

  • Power washing the patio
  • Touching up carpets
  • Changing the locks
  • Repainting

Security Deposit

One of the most common fees incurred by renters is the security deposit, which is refundable as long as your landlord does not need to pay for damages upon your move out. Landlords may deduct funds from your security deposit for repairs that may include:

  • Deep cleaning
  • Replacing keys
  • Stains on the carpet
  • Drywall damage from hanging pictures

How Much Are Admin Fees for Apartments?

figuring out admin fee costs - man using calculator - apartment - renting.jpg

The cost of the admin fees will vary based on local regulations and the landlord. However, it could be as inexpensive as $50 to cover the costs of running a credit check.

Make sure you find out in advance what the admin fee will be for your new apartment, along with any other fees. That way, you won’t be caught off guard by a never-ending list of fees you can’t afford!

Other Common Rental Fees Renters Pay

Here are a few other common rental fees you may be responsible for paying upon moving into a new apartment.

Pet Fees

In addition to a security deposit, many landlords will require pet fees. For example, you may need to pay a pet deposit (usually between $300 and $500) and/or a monthly fee (usually around $25 to $50).

These fees help to cover any potential damages caused by pets.

Application Fees

The application fee for rental units covers the costs of conducting necessary background checks. These fees can be anywhere from $20 to $100.

Parking Fees

If your apartment has parking, you may have to pay a parking fee. Depending on the rental agreement, you may pay a monthly or annual fee for an assigned parking space. Parking fees can range from $150 to $450 per month, depending on your location.

Utility Fees

Many landlords will charge a monthly utility fee in apartments where renters are not responsible for their utilities. These costs typically range from $50 to $220 but may vary based on whether the landlord charges a usage or flat fee.

Amenity Fees

Amenity fees are often in place if the apartment has common areas. The amenity can be monthly (usually around $30 to $50) or an upfront fee (between $100 and $500).

woman sitting on bed with dog - admin fee - apartment renting

Final Thoughts

When you are moving into an apartment for the first time, the fees can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re paying for. The rental administrative fee serves as a claim or holding fee to hold the property as the landlord checks your details and finalizes the last few steps of the rental application process.

Now you can head into your apartment search with more confidence. And if you're in need of rental matches tailored to your needs, turn your sights to Apartment List and our vast catalog of listings.

Admin Fee FAQs

Are Apartment Admin Fees Refundable?

Depending on the local regulations, the apartment admin fee may be refundable. Typically, though, the application fee is the only non-refundable portion of the move-in fees for renters.

Are Administration Fees Legal?

Though certain states have laws regarding the number of fees they can charge, administration fees are 100% legal. With that said, the details of the maximum amount landlords may legally charge for fees will be defined by state law.

When Are Administration Fees Paid?

Renters will typically submit administration fees with their applications. These fees help cover the costs of performing the necessary background checks and act as a holding fee during the process.

Can You Avoid Admin Fees?

While you cannot avoid admin fees, you can avoid being overcharged. Speak with your prospective landlord in advance to find out what fees will be due and at what amount to avoid any confusion later in the process.

Can You Negotiate Administration Fees?

You can often negotiate administration fees with landlords. Still, you will usually charge the bare minimum to cover their time lost and the costs associated with running the necessary checks.

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Emily Kho
Emily is a professionally trained writer who covers a wide range of topics associated with the rental market and real estate industry. With over a decade of professional writing experience, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a Bachelor of Science from the world-renowned William F. Read More
Tristian Brown
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More

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