How Much Renting a New Apartment Really Costs: Application Fees and Deposits Explained


There are many wonderful things about New York City, but affordability is not one of them. The average cost of rental apartments is high as is the cost of living here and moving apartments. When renting a new apartment, be sure to remember that you’ll have to lay out a substantial amount of money before you even sign your first rent check. Here’s a breakdown of the application fees and deposit costs you’ll have to pay when applying for a new apartment.

Initial Money Owed

When you put in your application, you’ll need to pay an application fee, a credit check authorization fee, and you’ll likely pay a deposit to hold the apartment. If your application is denied, you’ll get the deposit back, but not the application and credit authorization fee.

IMPORTANT: If you hand over cash to your agent or the landlord, get a receipt!

The Application and Credit Check Authorization Fees

These two charges are often grouped together, but they can also be broken out into two separate charges. The combined fees will cost between $60 – $150 per person for a rental apartment. Every person on the lease needs to pay the fees, so if you’re applying with a roommate, you both need to pay. The cost covers the expense of running a credit check, verifying employment, rental history and more.

Deposits (aka Good Faith Deposit)

Landlords often ask for a deposit to take an apartment off the market while they review your application and run your credit check. These range from several hundred dollars to the cost of one month’s rent. If your application is approved, your initial deposit is then applied to your security deposit. If your application is denied, or conditionally approved, you get the money back.

You should only put a deposit down if you are confident you want the apartment. If you want to back out after being approved, the landlord has the right to keep the deposit. If there’s any question about whether you are rightfully owed your deposit, submit a complaint here.

And remember, good-faith deposits should only go to landlords, not brokers

Be Prepared to Pay

When submitting an application on a rental apartment, you can often use a regular checks. It is very rare that you can use cash or credit cards. To be on the safe side, come prepared and get a certified bank or travelers check in advance. Have your bank create two different checks in amounts big enough to cover the anticipated costs of the fees and the deposit. If you pay with cash, make sure to get a receipt from your agent or the landlord.

When to Submit a Backup

Not all hope is lost if  someone submits an application on an apartment you love before you are able to submit one yourself. If you’re really committed to the place, you can still submit a backup application in case the first application gets rejected. Just make sure the landlord isn’t going to run a credit check unless the other application falls through. And make sure to get the fee refunded if the other application goes through.