Over 11 years of renting, I've noticed some alarming truths. One of the biggest is also the most common, especially in larger apartment complexes. Often the rent is not all you pay to live in your place. Even though most rental advertisements only list the cost of the rent, you might end up paying a lot more in smaller incidental fees. Check out these examples of rental fees.
Once I rented an apartment in a large complex that had three swimming pools. They were nice to look at, but I didn't rent the apartment for the pool and didn't really care if the pool was there or not. Of course, that didn't stop the management from charging me an additional $8 a month for pool upkeep. Over the year I lived there I paid $96 to maintain a pool I never went in.
If you spot community features on the property like a park, playground, or pool, make sure you ask if those fees are included in the listed rent price.
Most apartment complexes I have lived in included the cost of 24-hour maintenance in the base price of the rent, but that isn't always the case. One complex charged an additional $15 a month - or $180 a year - for having an on-site maintenance man. In another house I rented from a private landlord I had to pay 10 percent of every maintenance call I made. One broken water heater cost me $75 out-of-pocket to have repaired by my landlord's maintenance workers.
Make sure you ask about maintenance policies and costs before you sign the lease. Once you sign it, you are legally agreeing to pay these fees for the remainder of the time you live in the apartment, and it can quickly add up.
While they're not monthly recurring fees, some apartment complex managers are sticklers for the rules and if you don't follow them, it could end up costing you a lot more than rent to live there. For example, when I was in college I lived in a four bedroom apartment with three other roommates. One month we were slapped with a $45 fine for having an outdoor grill. Around Christmas we paid a $50 fine for having Christmas lights on our patio. We also paid two noise violation fines at $35 a piece. All told, I spent another $165 beyond the cost of my rent and household expenses.
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