Spending a lot on rental application fees? Here’s one way to save money

CHARLOTTE — Rental application fees can add up when you’re trying to find a place to live, plus there’s no guarantee you’ll get the apartment or home.

In Charlotte, the housing market is so competitive some say they keep applying and keep striking out.

Even renters who get Section 8 vouchers still have to pay the application fee out of their own pocket.

Tamara Shorts says she spent about $180 for three applications and still didn’t land a place to live. “A lot of people are hunting just like me,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

Insiders told Stoogenke landlords typically charge between $25 and $100 in Charlotte, and they have no obligation to tell you if a lot of people have already applied for the same home.

The Greater Charlotte Apartment Association says North Carolina is one of 42 states that allows landlords to charge what they want for application fees. They use that money to pay for each criminal background check, credit check, rental history and income verification, even if the applicant doesn’t pan out.

Zillow did a study recently and found race can be a factor as well.

According to the national study, minority renters paid more for application fees. “It stuck around $50 for white renters. For Asian American/Pacific Islander, it was $100, and then for Latino/Hispanic and Black, it would fall sort of between that range … sort of [$]60/75,” Zillow’s Manny Garcia told Stoogenke.

Stoogenke suggests asking a landlord how many other people applied, so you can decide if that home is worth spending an application fee.

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