Landlords can charge fees to tenants on signing or move out, such as pet deposits and fees to make additional keys. Landlords typically have wide latitude to charge most fees to tenants in most areas. For example, Los Angeles allows landlords of rent-controlled buildings to pass on certain rent control fees to the tenant. See state and local laws for more details.
A major exception to a landlord’s wide latitude to charge fees is discrimination. Under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord cannot discriminate against skin color, mental or physical disability, familial status (having children under 18 in a household, including pregnant women), national origin, race, religion, or sex. For example, landlords cannot charge extra fees to only tenants with children or to tenants with service animals. Similarly, offering discounts or fee favors can be discriminatory. For example, waiving a fee for only Jewish people is a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
There are a few exceptions for smaller buildings. Buildings with less than five units where the owner lives in the building and single-family homes which was rented without a broker are exempt. Those buildings are permitted by federal law to discriminate based on the above categories, including charging different fees.
Some state laws extend out the seven protected classes above to other areas, like marital status, immigration status, and age.
State and Local Laws
Laws differ heavily by state, county, and city. Use RenterPeace to see more specific laws for to a given apartment and to see comments from people in your area.
Documenting the Problem
For most problems, tenants should document their issues, notify their landlord (document this too!), and stay informed about their rights. Renterpeace is a free website that helps with each step of this process. Tenants use RenterPeace to more easily see applicable laws, track their problems, and much more. There's a reason RenterPeace was selected "Best of" legal apps for both Android and iOS. It also includes household management tools, like a chore manager and bill tracker. Try it - you don't even to login first.
Using Property Management
To stay updated and organized about the problems in their apartments, landlords should use a property management system. Many are expensive or have high setup fees, but using RenterPeace for landlords is free. It's complete with legal compliance tips targeted to their problems, maintenance tracking, tenant screening, money-saving grant information, and tenant chat. It makes managing properties easier and staying updated about status of rental properties a breeze. Try it today.