Make Ends Meet: Junk fees

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WAVE Make Ends Meet GFX(WAVE News)
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 11:44 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Junk Fees turn up on everything from concert tickets, credit cards, airline tickets, loans and even residential rentals.

It is those extra little fees that are hard to understand like handling fees, application fees, convenience fees, and more.     

According to the White House, Americans are collectively spending nearly $65 billion dollars a year on these hidden fees. 

The Biden-Harris Administration announced this year a new front to crack down on junk fees in rental housing.

Jonas Bordo is the CEO of Dwellsy | Built for renters, a site for residential home rentals and a subject-matter expert to the White House on rentals and junk fees as they prepared a Blueprint for a Renter Bill of Rights. 

“Junk fees are fees that are usually surprising, unexpected, usually unwelcome by those who have to pay them,” explained Bordo.

The Renter Bill of Rights from the White House is not a legal document. It is only intended to be used to support the development of policies and practices.

Bordo, along with Hannah Hildebolt coauthored “Everything You Need to Know About Renting But Didn’t Know to Ask: All the Insider Dirt to Help You Get the Best Deal and Avoid Disaster” understands and applauds the White House’s aim to crack down on unreasonable or unfair fees facing renters.

“Landlords are always looking for an edge to get a little bit of extra profit out of their properties, and as a result of that they are looking at creative ideas for new fees,” exclaimed Bordo.

It may be hard to sympathize with landlords, but many of them are just trying to make ends meet as well. To prevent the shock of unwanted fees, the first thing to do is read every page and every word of your lease.

“This is a thing that every renter needs to do and so few of us do,” exclaimed Bordo. “Just read the lease, and the lease is awful to read.”

Biden is calling on federal agencies, Congress, and private companies to provide honest, transparent pricing to Americans while working to get rid of junk fees for good.

If understanding your lease and all the fees seem overwhelming, ask the leasing office for help.

“Can you please walk me through the lease please,” is a question Bordo says people should not be afraid to ask. “If you know the lease, then you know what they can and cannot charge you for.”

Frankly, any fee that you’re being charged that is not in your lease you don’t have to pay,” proclaimed Bordo.

From a consumer advice standpoint, it would be advisable for people to pay close attention to the rental agreement before signing. A signature is your agreement.

”Once you sign the lease, you’re on the hook for that,” exclaimed Bordo.

If you are fighting a fee you feel is unfair and that fee is not in the lease, turn to the attorney general’s office in the state where you are renting to determine the legality of that fee.

”The lease is a legal binding contract between you and your landlord,” explained Bordo. “Any fee that’s not in the lease you should challenge.”