Tenant Screening and Application Fees
There are limits on the amount of and uses for tenant screening and application fees under state and local law.
Screening Fee Limit & Permissible Uses
The maximum tenant screening fee for 2024 is $65.37
Landlords can only use screening fees to obtain a consumer credit report. Prospective tenants should expect to receive a copy of their credit report, a receipt detailing the cost of the screening, and a refund of any unused portion of the fee.
Notification of state law limitation on tenant screening fees (BMC 13.78.010)
When an owner or the owner’s agent gets a request to rent residential property in Berkeley from an applicant and the owner charges a fee to purchase a consumer credit report and to validate, review, or otherwise process an application, the owner must provide, either in the rental application or in a separate disclosure before receiving the fee, a clear and conspicuous tenant screening fee rights statement and a statement of the maximum fee cap permitted under California Civil Code Section 1950.6(b).
The “Tenant Screening Fee Rights Statement” shall mean the following statement or a substantially similar statement:
"Pursuant to California law you have tenant screening fee rights, including the right to a copy of your consumer credit report if one is obtained with your screening fee, a refund of any unused portion of the fee and a receipt of the costs of the screening. For more information about your rights, please visit [URL to be provided by City]."
*This page will be updated once the URL is provided by the City.
Prohibition of non-refundable application fees associated with existing tenancies (BMC 13.78.016)
An owner of residential rental property (or the owner’s agent) cannot charge a non-refundable fee to any existing tenant for the purpose of renewing a tenancy, in whole or in part, including any fee associated with the departure of a roommate or to request to add or replace a roommate in a pre-existing household.
Applicability to Existing Rental Agreements (BMC 13.78.018)
Chapter 13.78 applies to all residential rental agreements regardless of any contractual language in any rental agreement or lease to the contrary. Any provision of an existing rental agreement or lease that violates the provisions of this chapter are unenforceable.