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The Top Four Hidden Costs of Renting

Most renters head into the search for a new apartment or rental condo armed only with their rental wish list and a monthly rent budget. But according to the rental experts at Tricap Preferred, a free apartment locator service specializing in popular downtown Chicago neighborhoods, renters should also factor in several hidden expenses of renting in order to get a true picture of their total rental cost.

“The apartment rental market today is very competitive, so renters need to be fully aware of what they will be responsible for in terms of monthly rent as well as auxiliary fees,” said Bryan Pritchard, managing broker of Tricap Preferred. “Whether you’re renting your first apartment or your fifth, everyone has a budget and it’s up to the individual to see how much these extra costs will factor into their rental decision.”

Pritchard pointed to the following as the four most common hidden expenses renters are likely to encounter in today’s rental climate:

1.) Move-In Fees: Many renters who expect to put down a security deposit when they sign a lease are surprised when they are instead asked to pay a non-refundable move-in fee. Separate from application fees, which cover the cost of running a renter’s application and credit check, move-in fees range from $350 to $500 and help cover any damages to the rental once a tenant leaves.

“Most apartment buildings are now charging move-in fees instead of taking security deposits,” said Pritchard. “But if you’re willing to make a decision on the apartment within 24 hours, some buildings may offer to reduce the move-in fee or waive it entirely.”

Pritchard added that individual condo owners renting their units via the MLS still typically ask for a security deposit of one month’s rent, which is fully refundable at the end of the lease term pending no damage. However, the condo building may charge renters an additional move-in fee of $100 to $150 to reserve the elevator.

2.) Utilities and Parking: Although some rentals include utilities (heat, air conditioning, water, sewer, trash, electricity, internet and cable) and parking as part of the monthly rent, others do not. These costs can add up to an additional $400 to $500 a month, so renters should be clear about what’s included in their monthly rent in order to accurately comparison shop within their true budget.

“We advise our clients to have a budget in mind for rent as well as these expenses, so that they can quickly assess whether any given apartment or rental condo falls in their price range, whether it includes parking and utilities or not,” said Pritchard.

3.) Pet Fees: Even buildings that advertise themselves as pet-friendly still typically require renters to pay a pet fee or extra deposit, noted Pritchard. Ask whether the pet fee is a one-time payment or an additional fee added to each month’s rent. And while fees do depend on the building, expect to pay up to $400 per dog and $200 per cat, annually.

4.) Renewal Rates: Renters who find an apartment they love will likely want to re-up their lease eventually. To avoid being priced out of their apartment when the lease is up, renters should anticipate their rent increasing by three to seven percent when they re-sign. However, there are no guarantees – and if the building is in a competitive rental market or there have been significant upgrades to amenities, common areas or individual apartments, expect the renewal rate to be higher.

“If you’re renting from a private owner instead of a building run by a large property management firm, you may have some flexibility to negotiate the renewal rate down or ask for an extended lease to lock in your rental rate,” said Pritchard. “Often these landlords would rather retain a good tenant than take the time and expense of finding a new renter.”

For more advice on renting and tips for a successful apartment search, visit Tricap Preferred’s blog, Preferred Living, at

About Tricap Preferred and Tricap Chicago
Tricap Preferred is a free professional luxury apartment locating service specializing in upscale high-rise apartment buildings and luxury condo rentals in Chicago’s most sought-after neighborhoods, including the Gold Coast, Lakeshore East, the Loop, Old Town, River North, the South Loop, Streeterville and the West Loop. The company’s web site,, also offers online resources to help clients learn more about downtown Chicago neighborhoods and luxury rental living. Tricap Preferred is an affiliated company of Tricap Chicago, a real estate service provider with expertise in all aspects of apartment development and property management, including acquisition, renovation and improvement, leasing and tenant services.

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