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I am a student and soon to be tenant who is looking to rent a place for about 4 months between January and May.

I have to relocate near Atlantic City, NJ and I have come across many winter rentals by the shore that seem like a good price at this time of the year. So I came across a place that is $900 a month, covers most pretty much everything (electric, water, heating, parking) except for internet costs. However, when speaking with the real estate agent, she mentioned there is also a $1000 processing fee.

When I had mentioned that this fee is very high and asked what it is composed of, she only asked me if I was willing to pay $500 and the landlord pay $500. I am brand new when it comes to finding places to rent and from my understanding I think that this is the fee she charges to write up the lease.

I am not sure entirely if that is what the processing fee is or not. Any advice on how I should approach this further?

  • It smells fishy to me, but I am not American so I'll defer the answer to someone more local... – Stian Yttervik Dec 9 '18 at 8:09
  • How did you find this place? What kind of place is it? Are there other people living at this same property? – kponz Dec 9 '18 at 13:33
  • Do all realtors in that area charge a processing fee ? – Bob Baerker Dec 9 '18 at 13:45
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    I'm in the US and have rented places in 5 states and a number of cities within those, and have never heard of such a fee being requested of the renter. There is always a fee by realtors in one form or fashion, but this is customarily only ever paid by the landlord in every place I've ever been. However, real estate is such a weird industry that I still can't say that it is strictly unheard of or unusual in New Jersey, which I have never been to. You are right to think it is odd in general in the US, at least. Definitely consider calling a few other realtors and ask them if they have a fee. – BrianH Dec 9 '18 at 15:49
  • Did she call this a "processing fee", or something else? A realtor fee is not uncommon, would usually be about a month's rent, and can be paid either by the landlord, tenant, or both, but the listing should generally be up-front about this cost. – yoozer8 Dec 9 '18 at 22:31
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Realtors get paid for their work - which is matching a future renter with a landlord.
Those fees depend a lot on country and laws, but $ 1000 seems not uncommon. I know of countries where the fee is one monthly rent.

Note that I am not familiar with the specific market you ask about, and it could well be fishy or a scam, but it could be usual and legitimate.

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    That fee is almost always paid by the landlord, not the tenant. This sounds very fishy. – JohnFx Dec 11 '18 at 23:26

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