Apartment Admin Fee Guide

By PropertyClub Team
Jun 15th 2024
An apartment admin fee is a fee that many landlords or property management companies charge tenants. Admin fees are charged to help 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?
When Do You Pay the Admin Fee?
Admin Fee vs Application Fee
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 apartment admin fee 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-markWhen Do You Pay the Admin Fee?

You typically pay the admin fee for an apartment when you submit an application to rent the unit. Once you pay the admin fee most landlords will take the apartment off the market and begin to process your application. It can take between one to three business days to get approved for an apartment, so once you've paid the admin fee, you won't have long to wait for an answer. 

hash-markAdmin Fee vs Application Fee

An apartment admin fee is different from an application fee as it covers more expenses a property manager may incur while processing your application. In contrast, an application fee typically only covers a credit and background check. While most apartment buildings will only charge either an admin fee or an application fee, some may charge both. These property managers will typically charge a smaller application fee initially, and if you meet the credit and background requirements, they'll then charge a larger admin fee to finish processing your application. 

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.