A Modest Proposal to Get Rid of Additional Apartment Fees

My husband and I frequently go through a number of...

My husband and I frequently go through a number of real estate “phases” where we get really crazed about an idea, and then sort of let it go. Sometimes we think we should buy while the buying is hot and get a condo in Jersey. Then we think, “Is adding half an hour and an additional mode of transportation to our commutes really worth it just to live in the state where Bruce Springsteen is from?” Then, maybe after watching too many episodes of Sex and the City and I get a hankering for trendy bars, over-priced cupcakes and men who look like Mr. Big (or Aidan, but only later-seasons Aidan, after he cuts his hair), we decide we want to rent in Manhattan. Of course then we realize that we could only afford to live in an apartment the size of a broom closet. Then our current apartment seems nice again. And we forget about our wanderlust. At least for now.

(Though, if there is anyone here who’d like to let us stay in their building for free, let me know! I’m pretty quiet, I keep to myself and I’m house-broken. Mostly.)

Anyway, through my bouts of playing real estate tycoon (I picture myself as that guy with the top hat from Monopoly, but with opera glasses and a mink stole. I’ve clearly put too much thought into this), I’ve started to notice something. Rents are always advertised as low to pull in new renters. But then you get to the part of the application with all the other fees associated with renting. I’ve seen amenity fees. Move-in deposits. Elevator usage fees. Pet fees. And per-person application fees. Like, if there were two people moving into an apartment, they would have to pay twice, even though there’s only one application.

And I totally get it.

Property managers run a business, after all, and are in it to make a profit. This isn’t a charity. And it costs money to run credit checks on applicants. Or to maintain common spaces such as fitness centers and pools. And, I don’t know, maybe pushing the buttons in the elevators leads to frequent occurrences of button replacing.

But these extra fees are a major turn off to renters.

It makes it seem like there will always be additional costs to living in the building. If they wanted to see a money pit, they would buy their own house, or, like watch Scrooge McDuck swim around in his gold or something. Renting is supposed to be easier and more cost-effective.

So I have a modest proposal for property managers, which doesn’t include eating children (I’m trying to cut back, anyway): absorb the fees in the rent. Make the rent $25 extra a month, or however much it would be to include everything. It won’t be much (as anyone who gets a raise knows, there’s usually not much difference per paycheck). And then you could advertise how many things were “included” in your building. Renters would think they were getting a great deal. And you’d still get your money.

It might even get me to consider moving again. At least, for a little bit.

What do you think? And renters, would you rather have a higher month-to-month rent, or a lower rent but pay large one-time fees?

-Jessica Fiur, News Editor

Photo credit: Roman Gorielov