An application fee is an amount of money paid to a property owner so that they can determine eligibility to live in an apartment. It may seem like an attempt to squeeze every cent out of renters, but application fees do serve a purpose and are fairly commonplace.
Customarily, application fees range between $30-$50, however, it really depends on the desirability of the rental market. In some "hot" rental markets like New York or San Francisco, application fees may surge upwards into triple-digit amounts. Conversely, however, some rentals don't charge an application fee at all.
Like we said, not all apartments will require you to pay an application fee. With that being said, you might be thinking, "Well, why not just rent an apartment that doesn't have a fee to save money?"
When renting, you don't have to pay an application fee. There are thousands, if not more, of apartment communities and rental homes that don't require a fee to apply.
However, if you come across a rental that you're interested in that does require a fee, you'll have to pay it. Property owners can't waive application fees for any potential resident, as it would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act to be selective in that way.