By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA
(NNPA) – Seeking to promote transparency and fairness for renters, major online real-estate marketplaces have joined the Biden administration’s initiative to crack down on hidden apartment rental fees.
Companies such as Zillow, Apartments.com, and AffordableHousing.com have pledged to incorporate previously hidden costs, like application and convenience fees, into their upfront advertised pricing.
Acknowledging the need for clarity on additional charges that renters often face when securing an apartment, the administration’s call for transparency has garnered support from prominent rental platforms.
Administration officials noted in a Fact Sheet that they know that many tenants have been surprised when encountering hidden fees amounting to hundreds of dollars during the application and finalization of rental agreements.
The White House further highlighted potential surprise fees that renters might encounter after securing their apartments, including convenience fees for online rent payment, fees for mail sorting, and unexplained “January fees” added at the start of a new year.
In response to these concerns, the administration has focused on tackling these so-called “junk fees.”
As part of the latest measures announced on Wednesday, July 19, prospective renters can now expect a more straightforward rental process on three major platforms – Zillow, Apartments.com, and AffordableHousing.com.
These marketplaces will display the total cost of apartments, encompassing all associated fees, unlike the previous practice of revealing only the base rent.
The White House said the change should offer a more accurate representation of the financial commitment of renting, providing renters with better tools to make informed decisions.
“At the front end of the apartment search, people often pay application fees of $50, $60, $100 or more per apartment, and have to do it many times over,” a White House official stated.
“If they’re applying to multiple units, this can add up to hundreds of dollars.”
By exposing hidden fees and encouraging transparency, the administration hopes to empower renters to make more informed choices and foster a fairer rental market.
“Reducing housing costs is central to Bidenomics, and recent data show that inflation in rental housing is abating,” White House officials stated.
“Moreover, experts predict that roughly 1 million new apartments will be built this year, increasing supply that will further increase affordability.
“The actions announced today will help renters understand these fees and the full price they can expect to pay, and create additional competition housing providers to reduce reliance on hidden fees.”