There are four types of rental fees which are commonly required from landlords. Before paying any rental fee or deposit, have the landlord give you a reason for the charge on paper. Also get a receipt for your transaction and have it marked what the money is used for. Do not pay in cash, use checks or money orders. If you pay a security deposit get the information for the bank where it was deposited. Many states require escrow accounts for security deposits. If you don’t get any of the above receipts or proof of payment, do not hand over any money.
This is the most common form of deposit required from landlords. This rental fee is used to offset any type of damage to a rental unit outside of normal wear and tear. This deposit covers repairs beyond simple hole patching and painting. This is also the only fee which in many states is refundable if there is no evidence of damage.
Application fees are the next most common fee required from landlords. The application fee is used to offset the cost of paperwork which the landlord uses to verify information. This information can include criminal background check, employment check, credit checks, and reference checks. Most times these will cost the landlord money, which is why there is a fee to offset this. A less common use for application fees is to show the seriousness of the tenant to rent the apartment.
Advance Rent Deposit
The advance rent deposit is also known as a deposit to hold the rental unit. This, while not always used, is what you can provide a landlord to hold an apartment while you go through the application process. The good side of this is that if the application is approved, usually the advance rent deposit is a rental fee which is put towards the first months rent. The bad side is that if the application is rejected, or you decide not to take the unit, you also lose the advance deposit.
This is the least common deposit. Pet deposits are a fee required by landlords who want to allow pets but also want protection from any damage they might cause. Pet deposits can be any size and can reflect the type of pet, size of the pet, number of pets, or how well trained the pet is. Pet deposits may be added at a later date if you bring in a pet after successfully renting the unit. This is the only rental fee which can do this.
Georgia State Landlord/Tenant Handbook