Renting In Philly March 2023

Outrageous Application Fees, Violations, and Overpriced Accommodations



Photo by Freddy Do on Unsplash

The rental market in Philly is plentiful but expensive and too many people are being priced out and forced out in a tide of evictions. Axios reports that “Philly averaged 317 eviction filings per week over the four weeks ending March 4, [2023] per the Eviction Lab…despite Philly’s nationally recognized Eviction Diversion Program, a mandatory initiative requiring mediation to resolve landlord-tenant disputes.”

This isn’t a surprise. I wrote about this two years ago: says the average 794 sq ft [studio or small 1 bedroom apartment] costs $1900. The site lists the average rent per neighborhood with the lowest rent of $912 in Kensington to $2916 in Bella Vista (I have no clue where that is -because I’ve never heard of it except in ads and from people who aren’t from Philly).

The average place wants a 620 credit score, no prior evictions, and proof of income of 3 times the rent — which is $5700 a month ($68,700 a year). According to Census data, the median income in Philadelphia is $52,649 with over 22% living below the poverty level. Who can afford to pay $1900 for rent?

I’ve been looking for an affordable, ADA-friendly, 1st-floor apartment with hardwood floors for months with little success. After a year-long search here are my key findings:

1. Most properties are listed and run by 3rd party property management companies that often don’t have daily onsite staff. Some companies aren’t even in the same state.

2. Most listings under $1000 are more likely “shared” housing/roommate situations, in a dangerous neighborhood or the property isn’t well maintained

3. There are way too many properties with 20+ License and Inspection violations — 3 out of 5 listings on popular sites had several violations and no rental license

4. The “non-refundable” application and rental deposit fees are out of control. I’ve seen them range from $20 — $80. The most outrageous was a $50 application fee + $350 holding fee that you forfeit if you don’t sign a lease if you’re approved

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Top Writer, matriarch, educator & advocate with bylines in Zora, Momentum, An Injustice!, Illumination, Creators Hub, etc. Community Builder #FoodieFridays