Ideally, renters should only pay one application fee when looking for a Rental Home, and rental operators should only charge one application fee at a time.
This website explains Utah law and best practices for rental operators and tenants. It also offers a process where a tenant who feels they were improperly charged an application fee can request and potentially receive a refund.
Purpose of Rental Application Fees
Certain items in a prospective renter’s background create risk if they become a tenant. Application fees help pay for a thorough screening process which checks credit, criminal background, rental history and more.
Proper use of Application Fees
To charge an application fee in the State of Utah:
- The property must disclose all fees associated with the lease, and
- Disclose the criteria the owner will consider in determining eligibility to rent
When am I eligible for an application fee refund?
If you were charged a fee improperly (see below) you can apply for a refund of your fee. You must provide the name and contact information of the rental operator you worked with, so we can connect with them to discuss Utah law and best practices.
Thank you so much for your promptness in addressing this situation for us. We are so grateful that there are advocates like you and your association to help people navigate between these matters. Utah is fortunate to have you all to ease relations for both renters and landlords. What a pleasant experience. Thank you so much for your swift help.
This fund is NOT For Renters Who:
1. Were given rental criteria in advance, chose to apply anyway, and were denied based on not meeting those rental criteria
2. Made an arrangement with a housing provider to be on a waiting list or in line for a future vacancy, or
3. Chose to apply to multiple places so they could have multiple options
Ready to apply?
Apply Here for Reimbursement Of Application Fee Improperly Charged and Not Refunded
Tips for Renters
When looking for a rental home or apartment, be quick to contact a provider when a rental unit becomes available – housing providers are taught to list the criteria they require of a renter, take applications one at a time, only run background checks one at a time and take the “first qualified applicant”. Renters should only pay one application fee at a time, and only after:
- verifying the housing provider has a current or future vacancy, and,
- reviewing the required “rental criteria” provided by the housing provider and making sure they meet the requirements listed
There are two common scenarios where renters end up paying multiple application fees needlessly.
- Like applying for colleges, the renter submits multiple applications to see who will accept them.
- The renter doesn’t meet the rental criteria but applied anyway, hoping a housing provider would miss or overlook something and let them in anyway.
Tips for Rental Housing Operators
Application Fee No-No’s
- DO NOT charge an application fee unless you have an opening (if one is inadvertently charged immediately refund)
- DO NOT compare applicants to each other or look for the “best qualified (see first qualified applicant rule below)
How do I make sure my screening process complies with state law?
If you have questions, reach out to the Rental Housing Association of Utah. Members of the Rental Housing Association of Utah have access to trained staff, regular meetings, robust education and incredible written resource’s to help you set up your process correctly.
Here are a couple of resources to get you started.