Questionable Rental Fees

by Merridy

Is it legal for a rental company to do a background check and charge me a fee ($21) for this BEFORE I have even seen the house?

Before they will show me a house, they require me to fill out an on-line application. They call it an Application Fee and I can't tell if they are going to do a credit check or a criminal check on me.

I don't want to fill out an application unless I deem the house to be one I want to live in. If they do a credit check, that will make my score go down.

It seems they would need to say something about the fee being refundable. Or technically, the owner of the house should pay if the intent is to know who has looked at the house.

Or, at least it would seem they'd need to tell me that I have a contract with them (rental agency)as my rental agent for a fee of $21. This seems like a conflict of interest for their listing contract: taking money from both of us.

Now suppose I have to look at 20 houses before I find one I would consider leasing... If they all charged me $21, that would mean I had to pay $420 just for the privilege of looking for a decent rental house.

Anyone have comments on this issue?

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