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My wife and I are looking around at apartments, and the one we both ended up liking wants us to each pay an application fee of $95.

  • I will be the only one on the lease, and solely financially responsible for paying rent
  • Charges $425 for the "administration fee" -- twice as much as the normal admin fee in our area (Atlanta)
  • Rent is about $300 cheaper than apartments in the same area, and it is a better quality complex overall, with good ratings

The idea that my wife will need to pay an application fee as well is odd to me. Is this normal, or can I fight it?

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    They'll probably run a background check on both tenants. In my experience the places with these kinds of requirements yield better neighbors. – quid Sep 26 '16 at 17:32
  • It isn't universal, certainly. Can't vouch for frequency. If it seems excessive you can try to find a place which is content screening only the primary income.... Or which doesn't screen at all. – keshlam Sep 26 '16 at 18:18
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    Added united-states tag based on mention of Atlanta and currency being $. If this is some other Atlanta, then please specify. – a CVn Sep 26 '16 at 19:25
  • If the rent is cheaper and the place is better then after 3 months you covered the up from costs with the savings. I would rather do that than to pay more is a worse place. Maybe the could not do it but they are and it is their right to do so. so now time for a decision – Eric Sep 27 '16 at 4:26
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While I can't say this is the normal process for this to happen, it doesn't seem too far fetched to be true.

I would assume that the double application fee is in part to guarantee nothing slips past them in the process. The fact that you state they have a particularly low rent as compared to other places in the area may be due to having higher entry standards, in which they do a bit more in terms of vetting potential renters, in order to guarantee themselves accurate payment without too much in the way of problems.

If you really like the complex, I would say bite the bullet and pay the application fee, or at least ask them why both of you would need to pay such a fee, they should be more than happy to explain it to you.

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I can't speak for Georgia, but having rented many apartments in Texas for two decades, I've never seen an application fee at all - much less x2. Each state may have their own peculiarities, but having rented in multiple states and in Europe, I find the typical up front cost is the deposit (against damage/theft/loss). That deposit can be 1-2 months' rent.

If I were you, based on all the fees, I would actually walk from apartment to apartment for a few minutes (after work hours), knocking on doors and asking neighbors what their opinion of the place was. It really smells like they are milking you with all the up front fees. If the people you meet are happy (and the kind of folks you could enjoy as neighbors), then perhaps the $850+ up front cost is worth it to you.

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