You've heard the unfortunate news, right? With a shiny new tech boom getting into full swing, apartment hunting in S.F. is once again a contact sport that may require you to maim a Zynga middle-manager just to get your foot in the door at an open house in the Mission. And today we get a report from the NYT/Bay Citizen on the burgeoning trend of landlords charging application fees — and in one documented case, at $40 a pop with 250 applications for a single swanky loft, a landlord stood to rake in ten grand before he'd even rented the place.

A crime against humanity, you say? Well, sure. But landlords are probably all too happy to see the extra windfall after a few dismal years in which they were forced to offer a free month's rent just to get people in the door. Yes, now that 600 lousy square feet will run you $2,500 in the Mission, and vacancy has fallen to 3.7% as of recent reports (that figure sounds likely to drop lower), it's hard out there for a renter! And now you've got to cough up between $20 and $40 every time you want to put in an application? Damn. Oakland's looking better already.

Update: Commenter tarniv points us to this helpful primer on your rights as a prospective tenant regarding these fees. Some landlords are likely exploiting the hot market to charge fees to everyone, rather than just finalists in the process, because the fees are meant to cover the costs of credit checks. The landlord mentioned in the piece was not likely running credit checks on 250 people, so everyone should have been asking for a receipt.

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