CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Rent is rising in the Queen City, and for many, moving to another cheaper apartment is just as pricey.

Under North Carolina law, a landlord can charge up to two months’ rent for a security deposit. For application fees, there are no caps.

Landlords are not required under state law to refund the fee if the application is denied.

QCN asked:

“What is the point of an application fee?”

“So, application fees cover things like criminal, credit, income, employment background checks,” said Kim Graham, the executive director of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association.

A new report by Zillow shows some renters are paying more for these upfront fees.

The report found that Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans pay 43% more on application fees than white renters.

“Housing discrimination does still happen even though the fair housing laws are in place,” said Zillow rental trends expert Emily McDonald.

In N.C., fair housing laws prevent landlords from asking a series of questions on applications:

  • Disabilities
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Family status
  • Race

“It would be against the law for that to happen,” Graham said. “We have very strong fair housing compliance measures here in the Charlotte region.”

Graham says she does not believe the national Zillow report reflects Charlotte’s rental industry, but that does not mean costs associated with landing an apartment will be equal for everyone.

“The reality is that there are a number of factors as to why one applicant would have spent or invested this much money in their search for an apartment versus another applicant,” Graham said. “They are going to spend more on balance versus could be another person, same gender, same race, and ethnicity, but they could have some of those better factors that would play into their criteria for renting, and they could pay less.”