White House Targets Landlord ‘Junk Fees’

The Biden administration is calling on states to issue more regulations around so-called “junk fees” for renters, reports Andrew Keshner in MarketWatch. “These costs, which often come as a surprise, include application fees, administrative fees, parking fees, and even pet fees.”

According to Keshner, “As part of the anti-junk fee campaign, several states issued new rules around these fees, and Zillow, the online real-estate marketplace, introduced a ‘cost of renting summary’ that runs through all the fees a renter can expect to pay.”

But “Transparency surrounding these fees is not the same as removing them, rental housing advocates say.” Disclosures, while a step forward, “don’t do anything to lessen or eliminate the fees.” Ariel Nelson, a staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, says many of the mechanisms used by landlords are inherently problematic. “Credit checks and wide-ranging tenant screening services can contain inaccuracies, Nelson said. Tenant-screening reports can unfairly reveal a person’s entanglements with the criminal justice system, including an arrest that resulted in a case being dismissed, she noted.”

A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development study found that Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American renters are “much more likely” to be charged application fees than white renters, Keshner adds. 

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