How do you collect application fees?

2 Replies


I wanted to reach out to see how other independent landlords collect application fees.

I manage the property from out of state, so physically being at every showing is impossible - and I don't necessarily want to tip my hand that I don't live in the immediate area to prospective applicants.  I have a pretty good system of letting interested applicants that I've had a quick phone screen with use a lockbox to take a peek at the home to make sure it fits their needs, and I then email them an application.  I'm not sure how to collect an application fee.  Any suggestions?

I have used services like in the past to collect rent - but not sure about the application fee.

I know that plenty of services will do the screenings for you, but I don't mind (and actually prefer) to be the one who vets each applicant.  Should I use something like PayPal or similar to collect a modest application fee? 

Thanks for your suggestions!

@Cynthia Stith Lots going on here. First, your applicants NEED to be seen in person. I've had plenty of great people on paper and a totally different person who shows up. Someone needs to physically see your applicant. Just my conversations with applicants during the showing is priceless and I'd say excludes at least 50% of them or more.

Also, be very careful working on a lockbox with the public. Besides the obvious that your place could get gutted and cleaned out of anything valuable, there are a number of scams where your listing gets posted to Craigslist, someone else gets access (IE via your lockbox) and "rents" your property to unsuspecting victims.

If you do collect fees electronically, don't use Paypal. If someone disputes, paypal will likely side with them and take the money from your account to refund them, and if there isn't enough money in your paypal account, per the user agreement they can pull it from your bank account.

If you are out of state, why not hire a PM? Your savings vs. risk trying to do this yourself doesn't make much sense in my opinion.

I use E-transfers for all my rent collection and/or fees. Guaranteed the money won't bounce and usually no fees for either party

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