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What Bills Do You Pay When Renting an Apartment? 

Being a first-time renter is a considerable accomplishment and an equally colossal responsibility. One of the most common new renter questions is, “What bills do I have to pay when renting an apartment?” The answer is critical to properly planning your budget and determining just how much apartment you can afford. Whether you’re a first-time renter or a landlord assisting a new tenant, it is essential to have a good sense of the monthly bills associated with a particular rental. So, using our experience, we’ll help you answer this question; let’s get started! 

What Bills Do You Pay When Renting an Apartment? What Bills Do You Pay When Renting An Apartment? 

Before even considering renting an apartment, a renter must be aware of its costs. As a local company offering property management services in Northern Virginia, we have expert knowledge of the different bills a renter would have to pay when renting an apartment – and these can vary depending on the property. 

Proper budgeting requires considering all potential expenses: fixed costs, variable costs, and incidentals. While these costs can vary widely based on a number of circumstances, today, we will focus on the most common one-time payments and recurring costs renters face.

One-Time Bills for Your Apartment

These are the bills that you have to pay one time whether that is an initial cost or an annual one per the lease. Most of the time, these one-time bills are paid upfront by the renter to their landlords. Here are some examples: 

Application Fee 

An application fee helps your landlord or your property management company cover the costs of processing your application. They need to check things like your credit history, rental history, and job situation. They also do background checks to see if you have a criminal record or have been evicted before. 

Even though it might feel annoying to pay this fee, it’s actually a necessary part of the process. In Virginia, landlords can only ask for up to $50 or $32 if your pad is regulated by HUD (Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act). However, in other areas, this fee ranges from $30 to $75 on average. 

Admin or Holding Fee 

An admin fee is a charge you pay when the landlord holds the apartment for you after your application has been approved and before you sign a lease. It signals your intent to move forward with signing the lease and moving in. Simply put, the admin fee secures the rental apartment for you. 

This fee covers the landlord or agent’s work and lost marketing time should you eventually not move forward. Typically, it costs between $50 and $200, but in some states, there are rules about how much landlords can charge. 

Also, some rental properties will credit this towards your first month’s rent while others will not. Note that the admin fee is often non-refundable while this rule has some expectations depending on the state. 

Security Deposit  

Before you move into a place or start living there, you usually have to pay a security deposit. A security deposit is money that is given to a landlord or property manager as proof of your commitment to maintain the property and meet your obligations per the lease. This deposit is usually the same amount as your monthly rent. In Northern Virginia, the maximum amount of security deposit a landlord can charge is the equivalent of two months’ rent.  

So, let’s say someone is renting a place for $1,800 per month. The maximum security deposit the landlord can ask for would be $3,600. However, it is important to note that this law may vary according to the state you plan to rent. 

If you accidentally damage something in the unit, like breaking a window or ruining the walls, the landlord can use your deposit money to fix it. If everything’s okay when you move out, renters are eligible to receive all or a portion of the security deposit back.  

Pet Deposit 

Aside from the security deposit, landlords are actually allowed to ask for an additional pet deposit in most areas. Note that this cost is only applicable if you have a pet that’s moving along with you to your new rent property. While this fee can vary based on the size, number of pets, and landlord requirements, it commonly is around $200 to $500. 

However, individuals with disabilities that require a service animal are not subject to these additional fees or pet restictions in a rental home, according to the Fair Housing Act. So, if you have a service animal, just be sure to have your paperwork ready to go to streamline the rental application process. 

Recurring Bills for Your Apartment

Unlike one-time bills, recurring bills refer to the costs a renter needs to pay on a regular basis to pay – whether monthly or annually. Let’s review a few examples in greater detail.

Monthly Rent 

Paying monthly rent is a critical and obvious cost that renters face. Make sure your rent is at the top of your budget list every month. It’s really important. Failing to pay rent on time, or not at all, can result in court filings and even eviction. As far as monthly costs go, rent is usually the biggest bill tenants have to pay. 

Electric Bill 

Aside from rent, this is one of the bills you need to consider. An electric bill is basically the amount of money you owe for the electricity you use each month. It’s calculated based on how much electricity you consume, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Electricity powers pretty much everything in your rental home. So, you’ll definitely need a budget for this and look for ways to be more energy-efficient in an effort to reduce potential costs. 


The water bill works a bit like your electric bill, and covers the cost of bringing clean water to your home. 

The cost of your water bill can vary depending on where you live and how much water you use. On average, it might range from $50 to $150 per month, but this can vary a lot depending on factors like your location and the billing structure of your water provider. Keep in mind, some jurisdictions bill water fees on a quarterly basis, so be sure to set aside some money and budget for this expense. 


Note that this bill is only applicable if you are using gas in your rental property. Gas is typically used for heating and cooking purposes. That said, the average household pays about $60 to $65 per month for natural gas. However, the cost will depend on the property’s location, gas provider, and whether or not the gas is used for cooking, heating, or both. 

Phone and Internet

Whether you’re just browsing, streaming, or working from home – having a good internet connection is needed these days. Internet costs can vary depending on the internet provider and monthly payment plan you choose. However, expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 per month for your internet bills alone. 


If your rental comes with a private parking spot, it’s safe to say you’re a lucky one. But sometimes in rental properties, the privilege of designated parking comes with a fee. Parking fees can be a flat rate or vary, but expect to pay an additional $50 to $200 per month. In urban and city center locations, this fee is typically on the higher side, so be sure to plan accordingly.


Note that different cities and states have different ways of handling trash. In some places, rental companies and property owners must give tenants large bins for trash and recycling and secure trash collection services. However, removing refuse is an essential step in maintaining a safe and sanitary rental home. So, if the property does not already have a trash service or bins in place, talk with the landlord to discuss some collection options. 

Pet Rent

If you’ve got a furry friend at home in some states, chances are you’ll have to pay something extra on a monthly basis. These fees usually range from $25 to $50 each month for each pet. Unlike a pet deposit, these fees are non-refundable and considered a recurring cost along with your monthly rent. 


If you don’t have a washer and dryer in your unit, you need to consider ongoing laundry expenses. Whether you use a laundromat or your building’s laundry room – costs can add up.  

Estimate spending about $3 to $5 per load, depending on the facilities’ rates. If you do laundry once a week, that’s about $12 to $20 a month. 


We already talked about utilities previously, but you haven’t noticed it. Rental utilities typically include water, gas, and electricity. 

Budgeting for utilities is important as these costs can often be overlooked, but they’re still really important to include in your budget. On average, you might want to set aside $100 to $300 a month for all your utilities combined. 

Miscellaneous Expenses 

Aside from utilities that are often overlooked, the case is the same with miscellaneous expenses. They are the little things you might not think about but still need to pay for.  

For example, you need to replace light bulbs, or you run out of cleaning supplies like dish soap and sponges. Or, let’s say your toaster stops working one morning and you need a replacement. These costs are the most neglected expense a renter always tends to forget. However, these expenses usually pop up sometimes.  

It’s a good idea to set aside $50 to $100 a month to help cover these expenses if they pop up. 

How Bay Property Management Group Can Help 

Renting a property requires planning, commitment, and financial stability. Carefully accounting for any recurring and one-time costs can go a long way in ensuring a stress-free experience.

As a landlord, we understand how challenging it is to handle multiple properties at once and provide new renters with the guidance needed to navigate a complex rental process. Whether you are looking to move into a new rental, or need help managing your rental portfolio – Bay Property Management Group can help! Contact us today to learn more.