What Is an Admin Fee For an Apartment? 

By PropertyClub Team
Jul 1st 2023
An admin fee is a charge that is often assessed by landlords or property management companies to cover the costs of processing and reviewing a tenant’s application for an apartment or rental property. Apartment admin fees typically need to be paid in advance as part of the application process and are usually non-refundable.

hash-markTable of Contents

How Much Are Apartment Admin Fees?
Are Apartment Admin Fees the Same as Application Fees?
Is an Apartment Admin Fee Refundable if You're Denied?
Admin Fee vs. Security Deposit
Are Admin Fees Legal?
Why Do Apartments Charge Admin Fees?
Apartment Admin Fee Bottom Line

hash-markHow Much Are Apartment Admin Fees?

The average admin fee for an apartment is between $75 and $100. However, these fees can vary dramatically as they depend on the landlord and state laws. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see lower or higher admin fees charged. However, they’re rarely above $200. 

hash-markAre Apartment Admin Fees the Same as Application Fees? 

Yes, apartment admin fees and application fees are typically the same thing and are used interchangeably. Whether it’s called an admin fee or an application fee, it will cover the cost of the application and the processing of the application. Different landlords and apartment locations may label these fees differently, but they are essentially the same thing. 

hash-markIs an Apartment Admin Fee Refundable if You’re Denied? 

An apartment admin fee is not refundable if you're denied. When you pay the admin fee, you essentially pay the landlord to process your rental application for the apartment. This takes time, and there are often costs involved for things like credit and background checks. The apartment is also in limbo while they process your application. That means they could be losing other potential applicants. For this reason, the admin fee is typically non-refundable, even if you are denied. 

The admin fee will cover the time and costs it takes for them to process the application. For example, they may need to process a background check or call referrals. Both of these things require work and possibly even additional expenses on their end. 

hash-markAdmin Fee vs. Security Deposit 

The admin fee and security deposit are two separate things. The admin fee is for the administration of paperwork and any type of research that they do to process your application and get you into the apartment. 

On the other hand, a security deposit is a fee you pay upfront to secure the apartment in case something goes wrong. These fees are included with any rental. The landlord retains the security deposit as a cover in case you bail without paying, tear up the apartment, or leave behind a massive mess. They then use that deposit to prepare the apartment for the next renter. 

Most rentals have a security deposit that matches your first month’s rent, and it is required before moving in. As long as you pay on time and leave the apartment in the same condition you received it in, you should get your security deposit back when you leave. 

hash-markAre Admin Fees Legal? 

Yes, admin fees are legal. However, the regulations around administrative fees for apartments vary by state, and many states set a cap on them. For example, in New York, admin fees are called application fees and are capped at $20. 

Admin fees are important as they help landlords recoup the cost of processing an application for an apartment. They might be running a background check or doing other paperwork to get you set up in the apartment. They charge every applicant the same fee, which should be in writing. 

You will find that some states put a cap on what kind of fee is allowed. This is to keep the fees from getting out of hand. The typical admin fee is $50-$100, but it can vary. These fees can range up to as much as $300 or more. However, that is pretty rare. 

hash-markWhy Do Apartments Charge Admin Fees? 

There can be a fee for just about anything. Using the term admin fee really groups together many small things, but they are all administrative details. When you apply for an apartment, they have to review your details and then process the application. 

That processing could include any number of things. When the landlord is working to rent an apartment, they incur expenses in order to get people in. The admin fee is designed to help recoup those expenses. 

hash-markApartment Admin Fee Bottom Line

You need to budget for the potential of an admin fee when you are planning a move. These are one-time fees, but they will typically be an up-front expense. Admin fees can vary, so be sure to ask about these fees when you consider apartments to choose from. In addition to paying the admin fee, it’s also important to carefully review the terms of the lease agreement for any other fees or charges associated with renting the apartment before signing a contract.