If you’ve ever moved from one apartment to another, you already know that moving ain’t cheap. But nothing’s worse than thinking you’re done forking over change and then finding out that there are even more fees you have to pay. As Realtors, we’ve seem ‘em all, so here’s our exhaustive list of every extra deposit or fee you might have to pay when you’re moving.
Application Fee – This is a common non-refundable fee that you pay to actually apply for an apartment. The landlord/management company will use the funds to check your credit, run a background check, and pull your rental history and work history. Application fees typically run $40-90 per tenant, although every once in a while we see them cost more.
Security Deposit – You’ll probably pay this upfront at your lease signing, but as long as you keep your new place in good condition, you can expect it to be returned to you within 45 days of moving out. After you move out, your landlord will evaluate the cost of any damage to the apartment beyond normal wear and tear. They have the right to deduct the amount needed for repairs before returning your security deposit back to you. Security deposits usually amount to one month’s rent or more, and while your landlord holds your money, they’ll pay you interest (Illinois laws require it).
Pet Fee/Deposit – It’s common for apartment buildings and landlords to charge a pet fee when you sign your lease. In some of the larger apartment buildings, we’ve seen cat fees cost around $200-300 and dog fees amount to $300-500. Or, instead of charging you upfront, the building might increase your monthly rental price by a small amount (think $25-50/month) or charge you an annual pet fee. Some buildings may do a combination of all of these, which can add up quickly, so be sure to ask about pet fees upfront!
Move-In Fees – Move in fees are commonly paid prior to moving into a condo building. The non-refundable fee is paid directly to the Homeowner’s Association, and usually amounts to $200-350. The exact cost varies widely though, and to us it seems like they’ve been getting more expensive across the board.
Move-Out Fees – Move out fees are common in high rises where you need to reserve a time with the elevator to move your stuff in and out. $150-350 is typical, and that money doesn’t get refunded.
Administrative Fees – It’s common to pay a $400-500 non-refundable administrative fee when you apply for an apartment building or when you sign a lease with an independent landlord. Some apartment buildings will credit this fee towards your first month’s rent if you applied within a certain time frame of touring the unit (this is called a Look and Lease Special). If you pay an administrative fee upon applying for an apartment and for some reason your application doesn’t get accepted, you should get the full amount back.
Move Deposit – A move deposit is kinda like a security deposit, only it’s focused more on damage to the building’s common areas while you’re moving in and out. You’ll typically write a check for $250-500, and as long as your move goes smoothly and the place doesn’t burn down, the management company will shred the check instead of depositing it. Move deposits are especially common in a elevator condo buildings.
Utility Fee – This is exactly what it sounds like – a fee that covers all your utilities. Usually, this fee includes sewer, water, trash, and sometimes gas and/or internet/basic cable. Electricity is almost always paid for separately by you, the tenant. Cost varies greatly depending on the size of the apartment, the utilities that are included, and whether the fee is a flat amount or based on building usage. $50-220 per month is a good ballpark range.
There are all sorts of other fees that aren’t common enough to write about – amenity fees, pool passes, lease transfer fees, additional car fees, other fees we couldn’t have dreamed up, etc. Because nothing’s off the table, it’s crucial that you ask about what fees are involved before you apply for a place.
Or, if all these rental fees seem petty and make your head spin, you could always consider buying a condo instead…