Skip to main content

Zillow Survey Details Disparities in Renters’ Application Fees

Phil Hall
Feb 04, 2020
Photo credit: Getty Images/ablokhin

A new data analysis by Zillow is calling into question whether certain demographics are being targeted for higher application fees for home renting.
Zillow noted that while nearly nine out of 10 renters pay a security deposit, fewer than two-thirds pay an application fee, which typically runs $50 per application and is used for background and credit checks. But there appears to be disparities in how landlords demand application fees. Zillow found that 56 percent of White renters pay one, compared to 73 percent of Hispanic and African-American renters, 84 percent of Asian renters and 73 percent of renters who identify as LGBTQ.
Application fees are also more common in certain parts of the country. Zillow found renters in the West and South are more likely to pay an application fee (71 percent and 68 percent, respectively) than those in the Midwest (56 percent) or Northeast (54 percent). Furthermore, multifamily renters are more than 1.2 times as likely to pay an application fee than single-family renters.
"Renting a home provides flexibility to move more easily, whether for a new job, changing family circumstances or any number of other factors–but that flexibility isn't free," said Zillow chief economist Skylar Olsen. "Renters face a number of upfront costs, including application fees and security deposits, that can often run into the thousands of dollars–and not all groups of renters will feel these costs equally. There are sound economic reasons why renters in different places would pay different upfront costs to rent a home, as landlords try to cover the risks of unpaid rent, unexpected repairs, or surprise vacancies. But the potential for discrimination against certain renters, whether overt or unintended, cannot and should not be discounted."
Feb 04, 2020
CHLA Advocates Attorney Opinion Letters As Alternatives To Title Insurance

CHLA asks FHFA to explore use of the letters.

Dec 06, 2023
Helping the H.E.L.P.E.R.s

Federal bill poised to open up market to more teachers, first responders

Dec 01, 2023
Fidelity National Financial Hit By Cyberattack

Industry-leading provider of title insurance and settlement services radio silent on reported breach.

Nov 28, 2023
Citizens Bank Bids Farewell To Wholesale Mortgage Channel

In a strategic pivot, the Providence-based banking giant will stop accepting new wholesale mortgage submissions.

Nov 16, 2023
Surprising Surge In Mortgage Customer Satisfaction, J.D. Power Study Reveals

Study found first-time homebuyers were harder to satisfy, customers don't just shop rates.

Nov 16, 2023
Women Continue To Defy Homebuying Challenges, Representing 22% Of The Market, Survey Finds

Young, educated, diverse, and increasingly savvy, women homebuyers navigate homeownership hurdles with determination.

Nov 15, 2023