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Renters Legal Rights: Top 5 Rental Fees to Avoid

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 02, 2011 9:48 AM

If you've ever been a renter, you've undoubtedly met a landlord who has attempted to saddle you with a host of rental fees.

Between application fees, overnight guest fees, late fees, repair fees and cleaning fees, you might have ended up paying a lot more than you bargained for.

To avoid a repeat, here are the top five rental fees that deserve a bit of your skepticism.

1. Excessive application fees.

Did you know that most states actually limit how much a landlord can charge to run a credit check on a prospective tenant? They do, so check local law.

2. Overnight guest fees.

A landlord can limit total overnight occupancy--usually 2 people per bedroom plus 1 other--but charging you for new roommates or guests may run afoul of housing discrimination laws.

3. Excessive late fees.

The law varies from state to state, but there are often statutory or common law limits on late fees for those forgotten rent checks. Late fees should only be enough to compensate a landlord for the hassle of making another run to the bank.

4. Repair fees.

By law, your landlord must keep your unit and the building in fit and habitable condition. So unless you broke something or are requesting an upgrade, repair fees are not your responsibility.

5. Cleaning fees.

This is perhaps the most abhorred of all rental fees. When you move out of a rental unit, you are only responsible for returning it to the state in which you received it--minus any ordinary wear and tear. This includes level of cleanliness.

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