Switching apartments triggers surprise fee

Faster. Better. Together.
Inman Connect San Francisco, Jul 16-20, 2018

Q: After my lease was up, I asked to move to a different apartment in the building. Management charged me a $200 fee for repainting and new carpeting. But I didn't pay this fee when I initially moved in, and new tenants at this time don't pay it either. Is this legal? --Judith M. A: Management has charged you a "move-in fee," which is a one-time fee that's intended to reimburse the landlord for costs associated with processing a new tenant. Typically, they include new keys, the value of management's time spent processing the lease and introducing the tenant to the property, and so on. It's unusual to see such a fee include refurbishing costs, such as new paint and carpet. Normally, if a rental needs these due to abnormal use by the prior tenant, the landlord deducts the cost from the prior tenant's security deposit. If the paint and carpet need to be refreshed due to normal wear and tear, the landlord simply does the work -- this is known as upkeep, and while te...