By Suzanne Potter, California News Service
March 16, 2023 (Sacramento) -- Renters these days are getting hit with all kinds of extra charges, and consumer advocates want the federal government to crack down on the so-called "junk rental fees."
A new report from the National Consumer Law Center found many landlords charge excessive fees, not just for utilities but to process a rental application, move trash to the bins, allow roommates or pets, accept certain forms of payment or notify you of late payment.
April Kuehnhoff, senior attorney at the center, said with rents already sky-high, all extra fees must be disclosed ahead of time
."There are fees that people can't opt out of, so it's very difficult to comparison shop or to actually know how much does it cost to rent this apartment," Kuehnhoff explained.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission are both looking into the issue of junk fees. Advocates want the government to crack down on abuses by large landlords and debt collectors, and work with private companies such as Zillow and Apartments.com to make sure fees are disclosed upfront.
Kuehnhoff pointed out pest-control fees may even be illegal.
"The duty of a landlord is to provide a habitable space," Kuehnhoff stressed. "So you should be delivering an apartment that's free of rodents free of cockroaches, and it shouldn't be up to the tenant to pay an additional sum."
The California Legislature is considering Senate Bill 611, which would force landlords to disclose upfront the true rent and any required fees. It is part of a six-bill legislative package to combat junk fees in housing, hotels, car rentals, ticketing, electric-vehicle purchases and small-business financing.