Home Rental Fees

Renting a home involves a lot more than the monthly rental costs. As with any contract, read it thoroughly to avoid being nickel-and-dimed. The discussion focuses on various ways of reducing fees for home rental tenants and owners. Login and contribute to the forum with your experiences, questions, and advice.

Landowners often attempt to shift as many fees as possible to the tenant. A low monthly rent could be just a fraction of the true cost for the tenant. It’s worth finding out the actual total costs per period (usually $/mo).

Look for fees related to:  pets, garbage, water, natural gas (heat), electricity, cable, extra person, extra vehicle, a grill, satellite dish, painting or other home improvements, and the list goes on. Bottom line…read the contract before negotiating. Everything should be considered as negotiable.

Tenants

Tenants usually have the lower amount of experience when it comes to negotiating terms of rental contract. Landlords have refined their contract over time with lessons learned to make it work for them. 

If you have a need for extra storage sometimes the landlord may have extra space you could use at no charge or at least a fee less (and more convenient) than renting a storage unit. Perhaps there is a basement, storage shed, attic space that they can offer if you ask. 

Don’t lose your keys. Replacing locks, adding locks to doors, replacement keys, are all likely additional fees since they cost the Landlord additional money. 

Alterations are probably allowed to a small degree. There’s alot of subjectivity and these are tough to define so it’s best to check with the Landlord before driling into a wall, painting a bathroom, or changing a light fixture. 

Another consideration is paying cash or more money up front, such as paying for 3 months or 6 months of rent (or any known fixed portion of the future obligations). The Landlord may offer a discount to receive money soone.r

Landlords

When creating a contract ensure your contact meets the legal requirements of your state. Consider consulting an attorney to review and approve your contract. There can be some unusual technical and formatting requirements to include in the contract. Moreover, there will be obligations the Landlord has to fulfill. Laws vary by government agency and change frequently. The excerpts below may not apply if they contradict the laws. 

Some of these obligations may need to be done within a certain amount of time. Adding or deleting language could put the contract at risk of violating state policies. 

UTILITIES

Protect yourself against utility abuse. If you have agreed to pay for natural gas, electricity, water or other utilities the tenant has little incentive to keep your cost to a minimum. If you cover the electricity but not gas, be aware of electric heating units showing up on the property….and the windows wide open. If nothing else, put a maximum amount per month or per year on that amount you’ll cover and any surplus is the responsibility of the tenant. In summary, you may have to pay for some fees to attact tenants but be aware abuse of those utilities. 

Unless you have an unusual agreement with the tenant, make it clear to the tenant that they are responsible for insuring their possessions. There should be some language in the contact that emphasizes this point. 

LATE FEES

This will happen and you must enforce them or you’ll set a undesirable precendent and lose out on money owed to you. The key is incentivizing the tenant to pay on time and when they don’t, send a Notice immediately…every time.

Consider changing the language in the contract to give the tenant an incentive to pay on time or at least the tenant will percieve it as a reward. Most rental contracts tack on a late fee of $25-$50 after some point in the month.

Let’s use an example of where your objective is to get $700/mo paid by the 10th of every month. Instead of saying “….a late fee of $50 will be added if payment is received after the 10th of the month….“, try to re-word where it seems to reward the tenant for paying on time.

Advertise your rent as $750/mo. and create language such as “….if the payment is made by the 10th of the month there is a $50 reduction or $700/mo. Payments after the 10th of the month are the standard rent of $750/mo.” It sounds a lot better to the tenant and the latter still accomplishes your goal.  

PETS

Pets can have a long term cost impact that mirrors the tenant(s) themselves. From wear-and -tear, smells, and risk to others these can introduce new variables to the game. State your position in the contract with language that includes how many, types, size, etc. Consider an upfront payment (possibly non-refundable) plus an additional fee/month. 

EXTRA VEHICLES

Add language to limit the amount of motorized vehicles on the property to prevent the property from becoming a salvage yard. Or add a fee for additional vehicles but make sure this is allowable within the city. Furthermore add language stating any fines should be paid by the tenant. 

Refund my Fees

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