Some landlords wonder who pays for the potential tenant’s screening process. There really is not set answer, but the standard residential rental market typically makes the prospective tenant pay the cost of the screening process and the application fee.
As with most other things, there are always some landlords or property managers that do things differently. Some charge the perspective tenant more (so instead of a $45 cost, they charge $60 and keep the $15) to help cover additional expense and overhead, as well as raising the bar higher for more qualified applicants. If there was only a $10 fee, many prospective tenants who know they have an eviction or criminal charge, might still consider putting the application in anyway since the cost to do so is so low, and they might get past the screening process. If it is a higher amount, lets say $60, then that same person would probably not waste the time and money on filing out the application and submitting it because they know that they probably would not pass the screening standards. This helps the landlord in that they are not wasting their time in meeting and processing prospective tenants that would not pass their required rental criteria.
There are also some landlords that do not charge any application fee directly to the prospective tenants. In the rental market period that just passed, landlords were desperate to get new tenants in, as more and more people were buying homes, and the demand for rental homes decreased. Many landlords were not charging a fee, as an incentive to get more people at least considering their rental.
As you can see, it is not always cut and dry, as to whether or not a landlord should charge the fee to the prospective tenant. We at Dragnet, recommend that the landlord at least charge the cost of the screening process to the tenant as the application fee, so that there is no financial cost to the landlord, only their time in dealing with the prospective renter.