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Is it legal for Rental Companies to charge application fees?

In NC, there is no limit to what a rental company or landlord can charge for an application fee.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Houses and apartments. For both, you're looking at high demand and low supply. House sellers are getting over the asking price and apartment complexes and even individual rentals have dozens if not a hundred applicants. It is standard to pay a fee with the application.

“What it does is cover any background checks that need to be done for creditworthy ness or tenant worthiness. You may put in that application, you may pay that fee and you may not get it. And unfortunately, that is the way it is in some circumstances, especially right now it is a hot market for people looking to rent,” said Brian Carberry, managing editor, Rent.com.

In North Carolina, there is no set fee for how much an application fee can be. You'll see everything from $25 to $100. There is no law that says the landlord has to refund the fee if you don't get the rental. That can leave you racking up a lot of application fees with nowhere to go.

“Have conversations with landlords to find out what the demand is and then see if there is a way for you to sweeten the pot by saying, ‘I'll move in tomorrow, I'll pay an extra month's rent’, to put yourself at the front of the list,” said Carberry.

There's no harm in asking the landlord how many applications he's already received so you can make a decision if you think it's worth your time and money for this particular unit.  


Viewer Ricky writes:
The beginning of August I was sent a letter saying my lease is up at the end of august and I can't renew my lease....is there any help?

Ricky paid his rent on time every month but his landlord is not renewing his lease. Can the landlord do that?

“If they want a new tenant that they want to charge a lot more for the rent, they can do that. If the lease is up and the landlord wants to sell the house, they can do that. Once the lease is up, the agreement is over and both can leave no questions asked,” said Carberry.